Achieving an equitable division of property is the ideal in a divorce settlement. But equitable does not always mean equal, particularly if one spouse came into the marriage with significant assets before they married their current spouse or inherited certain assets prior to or during the marriage.
In the event that you have a separate property claim, it is imperative to work with your attorney to trace and identify that separate property. If you have commingled your separate property with marital property and therefore cannot trace your separate property claim, you may lose your separate property claim but can still ask for an unequal and equitable distribution of the assets based upon your separate property contributions.
Before an equitable division of property can occur, it is necessary to identify and value assets that would be considered marital property (earned/achieved during the marriage) or separate property (earned/achieved before the marriage) or inherited before or during the marriage.
That said, pre-marital businesses are also vulnerable to claims for equitable distribution. A valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can help eliminate or limit the threat to a pre-marital business venture in a future divorce.
Examples of separate property which are protected from equitable distribution in New York State may include:
- Earnings from personal injury claims; and
- Separately maintained pre-marital accounts.
As a family law attorney and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Lisa Zeiderman has the financial expertise to assist in performing a complex financial evaluation of your pre-marital holdings to determine their worth, always keeping in mind the cost of litigation.