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How are Assets Divided During a Divorce?


In New York, a divorce requires all assets to be identified, valued, and distributed. This can be an extremely complicated process if you and your spouse have significant assets and property acquired during the marriage. You need a skilled divorce attorney that has experience with complicated financial issues. The attorneys at The Rossi Law Firm regularly handle complicated, high asset divorce cases and have the experience to protect your interests.

Assets Division in New York Divorce Cases

Tips for Approaching Asset Division

This is often a very stressful part of the divorce process, especially if you and your spouse have substantial or complicated assets to divide. To make the process a bit easier, follow this advice.

Attempt to Be Civil

While this is not always easy, especially if there has been infidelity or other poor behavior in your marriage, doing your best to remain cordial and calm can ease tension in an already tense situation.

Document Your Assets

Especially for assets that are liquid, like cash, or otherwise easily movable, such as collectibles, jewelry, or other valuables, it’s wise to photograph, document, and inventory everything you have as soon as possible. This helps ensure no assets go “missing” and everything that can be divided is on the table.

Determining Your Assets

When determining the specific items that must be divided between you and your spouse, the court takes many factors into consideration. There are, of course, high value assets such as your home, but there are many other marital assets that will need to be divided.

Some of the items that the court will determine as assets to be divided include, but are not limited to:

  • Vehicles: Cars, RVs, boats, etc.

  • Retirement Accounts: Any shared 401ks, IRAs, etc.

  • Businesses: Real estate, fixtures and furnishings, good will, accounts receivable, etc.

  • Insurance Policies: Any insurance policies that have a cash value, such as whole life policies, or that can be used as future payments.

  • Credit Cards: Points or miles that the card helps accumulate.

  • Debt Repayment: Any lingering payments that are still owed to you and your spouse.

  • Collections: Artwork, antiques, or other valuables you share.

You must also understand the difference between separate and marital property.

  • Separate Property: Generally refers to property you owned before you were married, any inheritance, an award for personal injuries, or gifts from third parties.

  • Marital Property: Generally refers to property acquired during the marriage regardless of the name the property is in.

Separate property, unless commingled with marital property, will likely not be included in the asset division of your divorce.

How Are Assets Divided in New York?

There are typically two ways in which assets are divided between you and your spouse. The respective lawyers can negotiate an amicable distribution of assets by way of a Property Settlement Agreement, in which you and your spouse decide. If negotiation is not a viable option, due to one or both of the parties being unreasonable, a refusal to compromise, or high levels of animosity, the court will determine how your assets will be divided after a hearing or trial.

If the case makes it to court, there are several factors which a judge will take into account to determine a fair division of assets. These can include:

The Income and Property of Each Spouse

The court will look at the income and financial position of each party.

The Length of Marriage

Typically, longer marriages may have some effect on how assets are divided.

Involved Minors

The spouse who will have primary custody of any minor children and the need for that spouse to maintain ownership or possession of the marital home may be considered.

Loss of Benefits

Upon divorce, one spouse may lose health insurance coverage, pension benefits, or inheritance and may be awarded greater assets to make up for that loss.

Awards of Spousal Maintenance

The amount of spousal maintenance one spouse receives may affect the portion of the assets they receive.

The Liquidity of Assets

Since some assets can be turned into cash, their value and how they are awarded plays a factor in how they are divided between spouses.

The Use of Marital Property

If the court determines marital property was unfairly dissipated or disposed of by one spouse, often as to not potentially lose assets during a divorce, the court may award other assets to the other spouse to make up for that loss.

How Does a Prenuptial Agreement Affect Asset Division?

If you and your spouse signed a legitimate prenuptial agreement before you married, it will often play a role in how your assets are divided upon divorce — so long as the court does not deem the agreement invalid.

Although a prenup will likely affect how your assets are divided, these agreements are complicated, so having an experienced divorce attorney is important to protect your financial interests.

Handling High-Asset Divorce in Buffalo

When faced with the emotional and financial uncertainty of divorce, you need and deserve a tough, aggressive, and respected divorce attorney in Buffalo to stand up for you and protect your financial interests.

Armed with over 40 years of experience handling complex, high asset divorce and custody matters, the Buffalo divorce attorneys at The Rossi Law Firm are ready to aggressively protect your financial interests and help you plan for the brightest future possible.

Put our experience to work for you! Contact us online or by phone at (716) 854-5555 to speak to our team today.