What is the Marital Estate or Marital Property in a New York Divorce?
In New York State, there are three categories of property when it comes to divorce. There is marital property, separate property, and property that contains elements of both. The final category is the trickiest and requires the most explanation. In this article, Rockland County divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine, P.C. will discuss the marital estate and how it works in a New York divorce.
What constitutes marital property in New York?
The marital estate is composed of property that was acquired during the marriage. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the title; if the property was acquired during the marriage, then it belongs to the marital estate. This includes real estate, cars, luxury items, collectibles, cryptocurrency, and retirement accounts. It does not include property that was acquired before the marriage, inheritance, or personal injury awards.
The division of marital property can become a heated issue when one spouse thinks of certain property, like a business or retirement account, as theirs alone. In many cases, this property will belong to the marital estate and subject to equitable distribution.
What constitutes separate property in New York?
In general, separate property is any property that was acquired before the marriage took place. The marital estate begins to accrue property once the spouses are married. Savings accounts, investments, valuable property, cars, and real estate can all be considered separate property for the purposes of constructing the marital estate.
In addition, property that was bequeathed to an individual is considered separate property in New York. Gifts are considered separate property. Derivative money for selling off separate property is also considered separate property. If you sell a piece of real estate that was acquired before the marriage, the proceeds of that real estate are considered separate property. Compensation for personal injury awards is considered separate property (but not awards for lost wages). Property acquired from the appreciation in value of separate property, like a business that suddenly accrues value, is considered separate property unless the other spouse contributed to the business. Lastly, any property acquired after the divorce summons is filed is considered separate property.
In some cases, namely, retirement accounts, part of the retirement account may be considered separate property, while another part of the retirement account can be considered marital property. Properly speaking, contributions made during the marriage are considered marital property, while the value of the retirement account before and after the marriage are considered separate property.
In some cases, separate property can become marital property when separate property is commingled with marital property. This can include bank accounts. When separate property is mixed with marital property, its status as marital property can no longer be identified. In this case, the separate property would become marital property.
Talk to an Orange County Divorce Lawyer Today
The Orange County divorce lawyers at The Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine, P.C. represent the interests of New York residents who are looking to divorce. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin addressing your needs right away.