FAQs: Marital Property & Financial Assets

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What is considered marital property?

Marital property is defined as all property acquired by either or both spouses from the date of marriage until the date of a separation agreement or commencement of a divorce action. The form of the title of any property is irrelevant. The law is based on the concept that marriage is an economic partnership, and tangible property should be equitably divided. There are some surprising applications of this rule. Gifts made between spouses are considered [...]

What is considered marital property?2019-12-18T16:17:25+00:00

What is not considered marital property?

Property that is not considered marital is identified as “separate property” by law. Any property owned prior to the marriage is separate property. Inheritance proceeds, in any form, such as real property, cash, stocks, and bonds, is separate property, whether it is received before or after the marriage. The settlement proceeds from a personal-injury matter are the separate property of the spouse receiving the funds. Property acquired after the commencement of the divorce action is [...]

What is not considered marital property?2019-12-18T16:17:28+00:00

Are there gray areas? Can separate property ever become marital property?

There are some common pitfalls that people may be unaware of that may change separate property into marital property. For example, if one spouse receives a personal-injury settlement and deposits the funds into a joint bank account with the other spouse, this separate property has become marital. The idea is that the receiving spouse has intentionally changed the ownership of separate property from separate to marital by depositing it in a joint account where both [...]

Are there gray areas? Can separate property ever become marital property?2019-12-18T16:17:56+00:00

What if spouses separate and buy property afterward?

Property acquired after the spouses physically split, but are still married, and no divorce action has been commenced, is marital property. The court will take into consideration the specific facts of this scenario in dividing property acquired under these circumstances. The division is equitable, not equal. The court will start from the premise that this property is marital.

What if spouses separate and buy property afterward?2019-12-18T16:18:00+00:00

What if spouses separate and buy property afterward?

Property acquired after the spouses physically split, but are still married, and no divorce action has been commenced, is marital property. The court will take into consideration the specific facts of this scenario in dividing property acquired under these circumstances. The division is equitable, not equal. The court will start from the premise that this property is marital.

What if spouses separate and buy property afterward?2019-12-18T16:18:03+00:00

In New York State, is marital property split 50-50 in a divorce?

New York is an equitable distribution state. Equitable does not mean equal or a 50-50 split. Generally, the law provides that marital property should be divided equitably or fairly. Typically, a divorce will involve the division of equity in real property, retirement accounts, bank accounts, vehicles, and household contents. The exact division will be different for each case, taking into consideration the parties’ goals and circumstances. Marital debt also must be equitably divided. In most [...]

In New York State, is marital property split 50-50 in a divorce?2019-12-18T16:18:07+00:00

So after the divorce papers are filed, if one spouse receives a financial windfall (bonus, inheritance, winning lottery ticket) or incurs a substantial liability (business loss, gambling debt), these are not considered marital property. But can they add complications that might affect the settlement?

A financial windfall after a divorce action is separate property. However, in determining a spouse’s ability to pay support, these resources are relevant and must be disclosed. Debts incurred after the divorce action are the separate responsibility of the spouse incurring the debt. This gets tricky when the person incurring the debt has used a joint credit card or line of credit. The non-responsible spouse must take all steps necessary to get their name removed [...]

So after the divorce papers are filed, if one spouse receives a financial windfall (bonus, inheritance, winning lottery ticket) or incurs a substantial liability (business loss, gambling debt), these are not considered marital property. But can they add complications that might affect the settlement?2019-12-18T16:18:10+00:00

What happens if one spouse has been found to be hiding a significant asset, such as stock or a concealed bank account?

If it’s determined after a divorce has been completed that one spouse hid assets, the entire divorce can be reopened. This may also occur while the divorce is pending. In either scenario, the  offending party may be subject to a contempt charge and be responsible for attorney and other fees incurred to uncover the asset,  reopen the case,  and bring this information to the court’s attention.  Judges have many tools at their disposal to punish [...]

What happens if one spouse has been found to be hiding a significant asset, such as stock or a concealed bank account?2019-12-18T16:18:14+00:00

What happens if, either before or after divorce papers are filed, one spouse cleans out a joint bank account and spends the money on gifts for, or a trip with, a new girlfriend or boyfriend?

When a spouse is served with a summons for divorce, attached to the summons is a document titled “Notice of Automatic Orders.” This notice has the legal effect of a court order prohibiting a party from accessing any marital property and using it for any other purpose than is necessary in the ordinary course of business or meeting your day-to-day needs. Cleaning out a joint bank account for this reason would be considered a “dissipation [...]

What happens if, either before or after divorce papers are filed, one spouse cleans out a joint bank account and spends the money on gifts for, or a trip with, a new girlfriend or boyfriend?2019-12-18T16:18:19+00:00