Assets are a frequent topic for dispute in a New York divorce, especially when it is a high-profile couple with significant assets. Those assets can include real estate, retirement plans, valuable artwork, motor vehicles and much more. When the couple decides to end the marriage, there will inevitably be disagreements as to how the property is allocated. The concept of equitable distribution is one of the most important issues for the parties to consider. Given the frequency with which these issues are misunderstood, having a grasp of them beforehand is key to a successful resolution of the case.

While the couple is married, the spouse that earns income or brings certain assets into the marriage has the right to manage them in any way they see fit. However, when there is a divorce, it is different. The identity of the person who owns the property is a factor, but there are other issues that will be weighed as the divorce moves forward. It will be up to a judge to decide how to divide the assets in an equitable way. This does not necessarily mean it will be split 50-50 or the property will remain with the person who technically owns it.

Equitable distribution seeks to incorporate fairness into the process. This is vital when it is a high-asset divorce and one spouse might be the main breadwinner or brought the bulk of the assets and property into the marriage, while the other spouse was of more modest means. This protects the spouse with less from being at the whim of the spouse with the assets. Fairness is the goal and the needs of the parties will be a major consideration in the decision.

The following will be assessed with equitable distribution: what properties the parties had when they married and decided to divorce; their ages and health; the basic needs for a custodial parent; if there is spousal support; and what the future needs will be. There can be many other issues that will be considered. Divorce is difficult enough on an emotional and personal level without having a long-term dispute over property. Unfortunately, many divorces will center around finances and property, particularly in a high-asset divorce. Having legal advice with property division is essential for both parties regardless of their financial situation and a lawyer can explain and assist with equitable distribution.