When two people want the same thing they may look for a fair way to resolve their disagreement over which of them should possess the coveted item. In New York, courts take the same general approach when they attempt to divide up the property that two married people owned before their relationship ended in divorce. This process is called equitable distribution and the remainder of this post will provide a brief discussion of how it is implemented during the property settlement process.
Unlike jurisdictions that simply give parties whatever property their names are on to indicate ownership, New York's equitable distribution system attempts to make property divisions fair. Consider a couple where one partner worked outside of the home and the other worked in the home, doing important work but not earning any income. If a court divided up the couple's property and gave everything to the partner whose income paid for the items, the partner who worked in the home would emerge from their marriage with nothing of their own.
In order to avoid this disturbing outcome courts evaluate a number of factors to assess fair paths to property division. They may look at the property that each spouse owns when their marriage comes to its end, and they may evaluate the capacity of the partners to earn income on which to support themselves. The courts may consider if alimony will be awarded during the divorces, and they may also assess the ages of the partners who are ending their marriages.
Dividing property during a divorce should be fair. New Yorkers who are concerned about this and other divorce-related issues may reach out to their trusted family law attorneys for support with their property division processes.