Here’s How Equitable Distribution is Handled by NYC Courts

When navigating the complexities of divorce in New York, understanding how assets are divided is crucial. Unlike some states that follow community property rules, New York is an equitable distribution state. This means that marital property isn’t necessarily split 50/50 but rather in a way that is deemed fair and just by the court. Let’s dive deeper into what this entails and how it could affect your divorce proceedings.

Understanding Equitable Distribution in New York

Equitable distribution is a method used by the courts in New York to allocate assets and liabilities between parties in a divorce. This approach considers several factors to determine a fair division, rather than simply splitting marital assets in half.

Key Factors in Equitable Distribution

The courts consider various elements when deciding on the equitable distribution of assets:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and health of both parties.
  • The income and property brought into the marriage by each spouse.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • Any written agreement made by the couple concerning asset distribution.

Insights from Attorney Brian D. Perskin

“Understanding the nuances of equitable distribution is pivotal in ensuring a fair division of assets during a divorce,” states Brian D. Perskin, a seasoned family law attorney. He emphasizes, “Each case is unique, and the courts strive to reach a decision that is equitable, not necessarily equal, which can mean different things based on the couple’s specific circumstances and contributions throughout the marriage.”

Common Misconceptions about Equitable Distribution

Many people mistakenly believe that equitable distribution means a 50/50 split, but in practice, it is about fairness and can result in a variety of divisions based on the court’s assessment of what is just.

Impact of Equitable Distribution on Major Assets

In the realm of divorce, certain assets stand out due to their complexity and value:

  • Homes and Real Estate: Often the largest asset, its division depends heavily on when it was purchased and the contributions of both parties.
  • Retirement Accounts: Subject to division based on contributions made during the marriage.
  • Businesses: Valuation and division of businesses can be complex, requiring careful analysis and often expert testimony.

For a detailed guide on how property division is handled in New York, visit our page on property division.

The Case of Pulver v. Pulver

This case involves James H. Pulver and Suzanne M. Pulver, who were married in July 1992 and have three children. Prior to their marriage, Suzanne and her siblings received interests in New York businesses owned by her father. The couple signed prenuptial agreements the day before their wedding. These agreements were executed under legal supervision at separate locations.

Before the marriage, Suzanne used her separate funds to buy the marital home in Saugerties, Ulster County, with financial assistance from her parents. Though the mortgage was in her name, the property was later deeded to James, and subsequently to both parties jointly. Suzanne also invested $150,000 of her personal funds into home improvements.

In 1995, the family businesses where Suzanne was employed were sold for $12.5 million. She placed her share, approximately $2.5 million, in a separate account. James, an experienced stockbroker, managed most of the investments from Suzanne’s family portfolio and used marital assets to start his own company, Lockwood Financial Services.

The divorce was initiated by James in July 2002, citing Suzanne’s constructive abandonment. The validity of the prenuptial agreements was upheld in court, affirming their proper execution and enforceability. The trial addressed the distribution of assets, where Suzanne was awarded 70% of the marital residence deemed as marital property and 50% of the value of James’s business. Additionally, James was ordered to pay monthly child support of $2,175 along with child support arrears and half the cost of the children’s health care and private schooling expenses.

By January 2003, a temporary order required James to pay $1,700 in monthly child support. He had accrued $18,900 in arrears by November 2004. In June 2003, the Family Court granted sole custody of the children to Suzanne.

The Supreme Court found ample evidence supporting the enforceability of the prenuptial agreement and also supported the calculation of James’s child support obligation based on an income of $90,000. However, James contested the method used to calculate his income and argued against the required contributions to private schooling expenses, which he claimed he had never agreed to.

Ultimately, the court modified the original orders, adjusting the credits applied to Suzanne for expenses related to the marital residence and correcting the directive that James pay her $20,000, half of the marital assets used to start his business. This modification was aimed at avoiding “double counting,” as Suzanne already received a share of the business in the equitable distribution.

This case underscores the complexities and legal nuances involved in divorce proceedings, especially when prenuptial agreements and significant marital assets are involved.

Choosing the Right Legal Support in Brooklyn

Navigating the intricacies of equitable distribution requires skilled legal representation to protect your interests and ensure a fair settlement. With extensive experience in family and divorce law, Brian D. Perskin and Associates are dedicated to providing robust advocacy for their clients through this challenging time.

If you’re facing a divorce in New York and need guidance on matters such as divorce, child custody, child support, or spousal support, consider reaching out to Brian D. Perskin and Associates. Their expertise can significantly influence the outcome of your case, ensuring that you receive a just and equitable settlement. For more information or to schedule a consultation, visit their website today.

Contact us at 866-352-6844 today to get started.

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