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In the fall of 2013, the New York Times published an article and research that outlined that divorce after the age of 50 was growing more common. Whether the marriage lasts 30 years or 30 days, the legal implications and responsibilities equally exist, and the equitable distribution of marital property is one such implication.
Within ‘equitable distribution states,’ of which New York is one, the law recognizes marriage as a social and economic partnership—therefore requiring a judge to fairly and equitably divide assets and property. The sensitive element of the legal definition is that equitably does not always mean, equally.
To determine the most fair and accurate record of marital property to divide, the first step is to uncover all property (real estate, boat, car, jewelry, etc.) purchased during the marriage, regardless of whose name it is titled in. Pension plans and retirement plans, stock options, intellectual property and even commissions are considered marital property. Under the law, ‘separate property’ only includes that property that an individual owned prior to the marriage, or any injury payments, inheritance or gifts from someone other than the spouse and gained during the marriage. However, for property or assets obtained as part of an inheritance, injury payment, or gift, to definitively be considered as separate property, it cannot be placed into a joint account or in an account in the other spouse's name. It also cannot be blended with marital funds and in the event of real property, cannot be transferred into the other spouse's name.
Because the task of determining true marital assets and property can be overwhelming, many couples leverage family law attorneys to gain full disclosure. Unique to Marnell Law Group, P.C. is our cross-industry expertise, not only within business and law, but finance as well. This knowledge base becomes invaluable in complex divorce proceedings where forensic accounting, business analysis and review of short and long-term financial investments must be completed. We specialize in locating all hidden assets or debts to determine which should be included in divorce proceedings and which ones should not.
In some complex divorce cases, spouses have been found to secretly withhold assets to, of course, avoid having to equitably share them. Judges in New York State do not find this practice tolerable, and often award the non-offending spouse an amount equal to what was concealed.
Given the complexity and uniqueness of each individual marital situation, our team of experienced family divorce attorneys makes itself available to discuss the many intricacies involved in the distribution of marital property. Our Client Centered Client Focused Care® approach puts each of our clients in a position to achieve the best possible outcome.