4 Types of Equitable Distribution of Property
Do you have questions about equitable distribution? Check out these 4 types of equitable distribution of property, then call our attorneys today.
1) Separate Property
The Domestic Relations Law in New York discusses marital property and separate property. Whereas marital property is defined broadly, separate property is defined narrowly. There are several categories of separate property, which is property that belongs to just one party. This could be an inheritance that has been kept in that party’s name, a gift other than an inheritance, lottery winnings, or property that the party had before the marriage. Those types of property are not divided in a matrimonial action unless they have been commingled with marital assets.
- Marital property is defined broadly, separate is defined narrowly.
- Property that belongs to just one party can include inheritance, lottery winnings, or property before marriage.
- These items are not divided during a divorce.
2) Commingled Property
The court is assigned the responsibility of classifying and dividing property. Property may be defined as marital property, which was acquired during the marriage, or it may be classified as separate property, which was acquired prior to the marriage. However, people will make contributions in the way of making payments on a mortgage, or they will make improvements to the property itself. There is the ability to recoup monies, such as those that had been paid towards a mortgage. A spouse may also be eligible to receive a credit or an interest in the appreciation in the value of the house based upon the contributions that he or she made towards the appreciation in that house.
3) Premarital Property Rights
If the marital residence is owned by just one of the parties and that property was gifted to that party by her or his parents prior to or even after the marriage, that property is separate property if it stays in the party’s name. There is a question as to whether the other spouse is entitled to some share of the increase in value of that property. The spouse who is titled to the property first has the burden of proving that it is separate property, that it was given to her or him, and that it has remained in only her or his name.
The other spouse then has the burden of proving that there was an increase in value in the property and that her or his own contributions somehow helped in that increase. If the increase was due solely to market forces, then contribution is not an issue. If something other than market forces serves to increase the value of the property, then there is an issue as to the division of the appreciation between the spouses.
4) Dividing Inherited Property
If one spouse owned a piece of property prior to the marriage, but the other spouse’s name was added to that property after the marriage, the property now is marital property. It has been gifted to the spouse who was not titled to it. That does not mean, however, that the value of the house or that the equity will be equally divided.
A court will first determine what the value of the property was at the time that it was gifted to the marital estate. The spouse who owned the property separately prior to that time has a right or a claim to a credit for that value. This spouse has the burden of proving that it was separate and what its value was at that point in time. The increase in value above that is marital property and it will be divided.
If you or a loved one have questions about our 4 types of equitable distribution of property, contact our Saratoga Divorce Lawyer to schedule your legal consultation and case evaluation to get started on your claim.
Jean M. Mahserjian, Esq., is a New York family law and divorce attorney in Albany, Saratoga, and the surrounding areas. For more than 20 years, Jean has maintained her capital region law firm, located on Route 9 in Clifton Park, New York. The practice encompasses all areas of family and matrimonial law, and an online uncontested divorce service.
Our family law services cover every aspect of divorce at every stage, from contemplation to litigation, from settlement to modifications of orders. Jean M. Mahserjian, Esq., P.C. maintains low effective hourly rates for all of our legal services.
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