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Equitable and equal have different meanings in property division

Different couples may have different ideas about what constitutes fair when it comes to the financial aspects of ending a marriage. Some may feel that everything a couple acquires should be divided in half and shared equally among the soon-to-be former partners. Others may feel that they are entitled to everything that they financially provided during the tenure of the marital relationship.

In Utica and throughout the rest of New York, couples going through divorce are subject to equitable distribution property division laws. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal, but rather implies a fairness of property division that does not leave either party at a severe monetary disadvantage after the marriage ends. New York was once a community property state but has since abandoned that theory of dividing property based on ownership in favor of one that grants the court more discretionary power.

For example, before granting a New York couple a divorce, a divorce court judge will evaluate if and how property should be awarded to preserve fairness. If a couple decided to title all property in the name of one spouse, it likely would not be fair to allow that individual to retain ownership of all of the property if both spouses used and benefited from it during the marriage. Considerations that courts can make when considering equity and fairness include the future needs of the individuals and their responsibilities to any children after the divorce.

Cutting a collection of property in half may be the most equitable way to handle the financial aspects of a divorce, but that determination will be based on the facts of a particular divorce case. Property division decisions throughout the state can look very different even when operating under the same laws, and readers of this family law blog who have questions about equitable distribution may want to speak with a family law attorney.

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