Heidi E. Opinsky

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How Is Property Divided In New York?

Divorce can be a particularly contentious and complicated process ― especially when substantial assets are involved. The distribution and division of property during moderate and high net worth divorces can be challenging for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they often involve several types of property ― all of which must be valued using complex techniques.

Fortunately, Heidi E. Opinsky and her team of divorce legal professionals, can help protect your property as well as your legal and financial interests in divorce. They will work closely with financial experts to help ensure that your assets are divided fairly and correctly. With more than three decades of legal experience, Ms. Opinsky can provide you with honest and trustworthy guidance, whether you need assistance with property division in Connecticut or New York.

Understanding The Intricacies Of New York Property Division

While both New York and Connecticut are considered equitable distribution states ― meaning that property is split fairly, not necessarily equally ― there is one important difference in how the two states handle property division. Specifically, New York courts make a distinction between marital property and separate property.

In basic terms, marital property is any property you or your spouse acquires during your marriage, while separate property is property you owned prior to marriage. This distinction is important because only marital property is subject to division upon divorce. Essentially, if you bring separate property into a marriage, you get to keep it should you and your spouse divorce.

However, there is one noteworthy exception to this basic rule, namely, when separate property appreciates during your marriage and your spouse actively contributes to this appreciation. For instance, if you owned a vacation home prior to getting married, and your spouse worked to help remodel this home, any resulting appreciation may be considered marital property and thus subject to division. Alternatively, if the home appreciates simply because it is in a desirable neighborhood, any increase in value is still separate property.

In many cases, couples choose to avoid this issue altogether by executing a well-drafted prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. With such an agreement, you can pre-emptively outline how property is to be divided should you and your spouse divorce, including which property is to be classified as separate.

Factors A Court May Consider

If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are unable to resolve issues of property division, the court may be asked to step in and resolve them for you. When reaching a determination regarding property division, a New York court will consider several factors, including:

  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The income and property of each spouse, both at the time of marriage and at the time of divorce
  • The length of the marriage
  • The likely financial future of each spouse
  • The ability of each spouse to generate income in the future, taking into account education and skill
  • The contributions of each spouse in acquiring marital assets, including contributions as a homemaker

Special Considerations For Moderate And High Net Worth Divorces

If your divorce involves significant assets, you will likely need the assistance of a valuation expert, which is often essential to ensure accuracy and a fair division of assets. Heidi E. Opinsky and her divorce attorneys, work closely with forensic accountants and appraisers when evaluating all types of complex assets, including businesses, stock options, hedge funds, restricted stock, 401(k)s, pensions and other retirement plans.

The importance of accurate asset valuation cannot be overstated. Indeed, it can often give you a strategic advantage during settlement negotiations. Additionally, should your case be decided by the court, expert valuation testimony may be the difference between the court siding with you and siding with your spouse.

Legal Guidance From An Experienced Attorney

Typically, you will not get a second chance to make sure your property and assets are divided correctly during divorce, so you need to make sure you hire the right attorney from the start. New York divorce lawyer Heidi E. Opinsky understands the complexities of property division, particularly when significant assets are involved. If you have questions about moderate or high net worth divorce, contact Heidi E. Opinsky today. You can reach her online or by calling 203-653-3542. With offices in both New York City and Stamford, Connecticut, she assists clients throughout Greater New York and the surrounding areas, including those in Westchester and Fairfield counties.