Orange County Asset Division Lawyer
New York, like most other states, is an equitable property distribution state. Marital assets and debts must be divided in such a way that the divorce is not an unfair financial burden on either spouse. Usually, property division is either the easiest or most time-consuming part of a marriage dissolution matter. However, no matter how long it takes, it’s important to get a property division right the first time. It’s almost impossible to reopen closed cases.
The thorough Orange County asset division lawyer at The Law Office of Robert Sunshine never looks for a shortcut or an easy way out, so we pay close attention to details. The additional time we spend on a case pays significant dividends for our clients. Instead of a rough outline divorce order that leaves lots of room for interpretation, the order is specific enough to be enforceable and clear. At the same time, divorce paperwork is public record. Since not everyone wants property details, especially dollar figures, to be publicly available, we draft orders that respect your privacy.
Asset/Debt Classification and Valuation
The general rule in this area is quite straightforward. Assets and debts acquired before the marriage or by gift are nonmarital property and everything else is marital property. But as they say, the devil is in the details.
If Wife uses money from her paycheck (marital asset) to pay her student loans (nonmarital debt), she might have to reimburse the marital estate for those payments.
Or, assume that, before the marriage, Wife inherited a run-down fourplex from her parents. Husband used a wedding gift from his parents, as well as his skill as a property manager, to fix up the fourplex and make it attractive to renters. If Husband and Wife divorce, depending on the additional facts, the fourplex could be Wife’s nonmarital property, Husband’s nonmarital property, or marital property subject to equitable division.
The same thing holds true for all financial obligations associated with the property, like maintenance expenses, and all income, such as future rental income.
Small businesses have similar issues. Business goodwill is one example. Typically, if the business goodwill is related to a spouse’s name (Jen’s Beauty Shop), the goodwill is nonmarital property. In other cases (a Supercuts franchise), the goodwill is marital property. This issue matters a lot, since business goodwill is usually the largest business asset.
We haven’t even talked about property valuation issues. Property like fourplexes and barber shops doesn’t have price tags. So, an Orange County distribution of assets lawyer often partners with accountants, realtors, and other outside professionals in these situations.
Property Division Factors
Classification and valuation are only part of the puzzle. As mentioned, assets and debts must also be equitably divided. Some factors to consider include:
- Spouse’s property and income at the time of marriage and at the time of divorce,
- Standard of living during the marriage,
- Noneconomic contributions to the relationship, especially if a spouse gave up career advancement opportunities to be a caregiver,
- Custody of minor children, and
- Agreements between the spouses.
That last bullet point might be the most important one. Most judges approve most out-of-court settlement agreements, as well as most premarital agreements, if they aren’t blatantly one-sided and an independent lawyer represented each spouse throughout the premarital agreement or divorce process.
Contact a Dedicated Clarkstown Lawyer
Family law matters almost always involve emotional and financial issues. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Orange County distribution of assets lawyer, contact The Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine, P.C. Convenient payment plans are available.