Nassau County Equitable Distribution Lawyers 

Serving Clients Throughout New York and Long Island

There are many reasons that parties experience stress and reluctance about divorce - financial security is one of the more worrisome issues.

At Winter & Grossman, PLLC, we recognize that a client's ability to start over after their divorce depends in part upon obtaining a fair division of marital property.

New York divorce law incorporates the principle of equitable distribution.

  • What is equitable distribution?
  • How does equitable distribution work?
  • How can you navigate equitable distribution?

While equitable distribution may seem complicated, we can help you through this complex maze to protect your rights.

We will review your finances with you, discuss a plan to protect your rights and to work towards your goals, help you anticipate the issues, advise you as to a fair resolution, and work through the trial process if needed.

Each case is different and each client is different – we work closely with each client to understand each case and what is best for each client.

We are not a “volume” or “cookie-cutter” practice. We devote time to each file and to learning about and getting to know our clients.

What Is Equitable Distribution?

Equitable distribution is the division of assets and liabilities in a divorce.  But equitable does not mean equal.

“Equitable distribution” is more akin to “fair” than “equal.” The property of parties to a divorce will fall into two basic categories:

  • “Separate property” and
  • “Marital property.” 
  • Some property can be in both categories.

Separate Property

Each party generally retains separate property. Separate property generally includes the following:

  • Assets acquired by either party before the marriage
  • Damages for personal injury awarded to either party (but only pain and suffering damages and punitive damages)
  • Property acquired individually by either spouse through gift (except gifts from the other spouse) or inheritance
  • Property designated as separate property in a valid  pre-nuptial agreement
  • Appreciation of separate property except under certain circumstances
  • Property acquired in exchange for other separate property
Mediation

Mr. Grossman brings more than twenty (20) years of experience as a matrimonial and family law attorney to his mediation practice, having completed both the basic mediation training and the advanced mediation training for matrimonial matters. He added this service to provide clients with an alternative to litigation with the hope that he can help parties resolve their differences more efficiently and as amicably as possible.

Marital Property

Generally, marital property is property that is not included in the categories above and that is acquired by either party during the marriage. 

These rules apply despite one party or the other being designated as the owner or titleholder of the property.

The types of marital property that are subject to equitable distribution include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Real estate
  • Cash, bank accounts
  • Investments
  • Pensions & retirement accounts
  • Business interests
  • Professional practices
  • Tax refunds
  • Insurance policies
  • Vehicles (cars, boats, aircraft, etc.)
  • Household goods and furnishings
  • Timeshares
  • Intellectual property
  • Right to debt repayment
  • Jewelry
  • Collectibles  
  • Points/frequent flyer miles on credit cards

This list is far from exhaustive – marital property may include property or benefits that might not be considered by the parties.

After consultation with each client and their financial professionals if appropriate, we also routinely work with forensic accountants and appraisers/valuation experts to assist in determining the value of the assets subject to equitable distribution.

Because our attorneys have decades of experience and focus extensively on matrimonial matters, we have the expertise and knowledge to ferret out hidden assets, expose undisclosed income streams, and craft creative resolutions to accomplish each client’s goal, such as retaining a particular asset (e.g. a residence or collectible) or income stream (e.g. a pension) in exchange for another asset, liability or right.

Factors Relevant to an Equitable Distribution of Property

Parties can reach an agreement regarding the distribution of property or may have entered into a  prenuptial agreement that specifies the distribution of certain property.

Absent of a prenuptial agreement, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, a judge must make this determination and will consider, among other things, the following factors as set forth in Domestic Relations Law §236:

  • The income and property of each party at the time of marriage, and at the time of the commencement of the matrimonial action
  • The duration of the marriage and the age and health of the parties
  • The need of a custodial parent to occupy / own the marital residence and to use / own household effects
  • The loss of inheritance and pension rights
  • The loss of health insurance benefits
  • Any award of maintenance
  • Any equitable claim to, interest in, or direct or indirect contribution made to the acquisition of such marital property by the party not having title
  • The liquid or non-liquid character of marital property
  • The probable future financial circumstances of each party
  • The impossibility or difficulty of evaluating any asset, and the economic desirability of retaining such asset or interest intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party
  • The tax consequences 
  • Wasteful dissipation of assets
  • Any transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration
  • Whether either party has committed an act or acts of domestic violence, and the nature, extent, duration and impact of such act or acts
  • Regarding possession of a companion animal, the court shall consider the best interest of such animal
  • Any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper.
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