Divorce is a complex and emotionally exhausting process. It requires a significant amount of patience to deal with the ups and downs of separating two lives from one another. During this process, the couple’s assets are divided between the two of them. Often times, people going through a divorce believe that their assets will be divided equally between them and their spouse. However, this is not always the case. The reality is that a contested divorce usually results in “equitable distribution,” which means that the assets are divided fairly between the two. Throughout this time, an experienced attorney can navigate the process and protect assets.
Couples who go to court to divide their assets give up their rights to a judge who does so for them. This is done by determining what is marital property and what is separate property. Marital property is assets that were acquired during the marriage or converted into both spouses’ property throughout the marriage. Assets that were acquired before the marriage are known as separate property.
Usually, marital property is equitably distributed. However, separate properties typically are not. When dividing a couple’s assets, a judge may also consider other factors regarding the financial situation of each spouse. This can include their ages, earnings, debts, liabilities, tax consequences, economic status, and more.
When a couple is entering a marriage, it is important to know that there are ways to protect their assets that can make a divorce simpler in the event that it occurs. One way is a prenuptial agreement that details which assets belong to each spouse in a future divorce. This can only be drafted and signed before the marriage occurs. If the couple runs a business together, they can draft a shareholder agreement to outline each spouses’ interest in the company if they divorce and need to split it amongst themselves. If the couple does not draft an agreement before they are married, they can still protect their assets with a postnuptial agreement after the marriage. This serves the same purpose as a prenuptial agreement.
Leslye M. Schlesinger serves Rockland and Westchester County with compassion and integrity. With over 30 years of experience guiding clients through matrimony law, she now focuses on helping clients avoid litigation through alternative dispute resolution, including collaborative divorce and mediation. If you need an effective and committed attorney, contact Leslye M. Schlesinger for a consultation.