Equitable distribution is the method of property distribution used by common law property states during divorce proceedings. Contrary to popular belief, the term “equitable” does not mean equal. It means “fair.” Rather than a 50/50 split, the doctrine divides property and assets acquired during the marriage according to each spouse’s financial needs as well as their contributions to the marriage. Below, Goshen, NY’s John E. Bach Attorney at Law offers some insight on the topic.
Marital vs. Separate Property
Courts using the equitable property distribution method take both marital and separate property into account. Marital property includes any items acquired or purchased during the span of the marriage. If a couple bought a vacation home together while they were married, for instance, assets from the sale of the house would be divided between the spouses.
Separate property refers to property obtained outside of the marriage as well as through inheritance and gifts received from third parties. For example, if a man purchased a vacation home prior to the marriage, after it, he would retain sole ownership.
During a divorce, only marital property is distributed. This is because separate property can tip the scales. For instance, if one spouse has little-to-no separate property and the other spouse has an abundance, the marital property may be distributed in favor of the spouse with less.
Additional factors affecting equitable property distribution include the length of the marriage, as well as the health, age, and earning power of the spouses. For example, if one is unable to retain employment due to a medical issue, the court may distribute marital property in their favor. Courts also consider contributions to the marriage. If one spouse is a stay-at-home parent and the other is a corporate executive, the court will determine the value of each individual’s contribution.
It’s worth noting not all divorces are subject to equitable property distribution laws. If spouses and their attorneys are able to agree on terms outside the court setting, this will take precedence.
If you require the aid of a seasoned divorce lawyer in Goshen, NY, turn to John E. Bach Attorney at Law. Backed by over 30 years of experience, he focuses on a variety of areas, including estate planning, adoption, wills, real estate, property distribution, and more. Visit his firm online, or call (845) 294-7941 to schedule your free consultation.