Divorce might be the right choice for you. Perhaps you and your spouse have grown apart and you know it is time for your marriage to end.
Even knowing divorce is the right choice, it is normal to have anxiety about your divorce, especially when it comes to property or finances. You might be worried about losing your home, retirement savings or other valuable assets that mean a lot to you.
New York law states that marital property must be equitably divided. This does not necessarily mean equally, but it means fairly.
Marital and separate property
Before you can divide your property, you must decide what property qualifies as marital property. Generally, any assets you acquired during your marriage are marital property, while any you had prior to marriage are separate property.
There are some exceptions to this. Gifts and inheritances you receive during your marriage are also usually considered separate property unless they mix with marital property.
Only your marital property gets equitably divided. There are various factors a court uses to decide what is a fair division in your case.
Property division factors
Some of these factors include the length of your marriage, your income, tax consequences and your likely future financial circumstances.
This means your separate property could affect the division of your marital property. If you receive a huge inheritance that you are keeping as separate property, a court may award your spouse a higher portion of marital property to achieve a fair result.
Wasting or squandering assets is another factor. Evidence that a spouse gambled away assets or had to pay money in relation to a criminal conviction might mean they are awarded less marital property.
A final step in the property division process should be reviewing and updating your estate plan. Your will might reference assets you no longer have, or you may need to remove your spouse’s name as a beneficiary.