Court Analyzes Equitable Distribution in New York Divorce Actions

It is not uncommon for married couples to share finances, regardless of each party’s individual earnings. If they divorce, though, they may disagree regarding property rights.  New York is an equitable distribution state, which means that the courts divide assets in a fair, rather than equal, manner in divorce actions. As discussed in a recent New York opinion, however, in many instances, the courts aim to distribute property as equally as possible. If you are contemplating ending your marriage, it is in your best interest to speak to a New York divorce attorney regarding what actions you can take to protect your interests.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the parties, who were married for seventeen years, divorced. The court issued an order dividing the couple’s marital assets. Specifically, among other things, the order determined that one of the couple’s businesses had no value at the time the divorce action began and, therefore, made no distribution for that business. The court granted the wife 30% of the value of another business and 40% of the value of third. The wife appealed, arguing in part that the trial court improperly valued and divided the couple’s business interests.

Equitable Distribution in New York Divorce Actions

On appeal, the court modified the trial court ruling. With regard to the valuation of the first business, the court noted that the parties agreed to value their marital business interests near the start of their proceedings.

Further, during the trial, the plaintiff failed to present any evidence or expert opinion regarding the value of these interests at the trial date. Therefore, the court used alternative methods to determine their value. Without evidence to challenge the trial court’s findings, the court found that there was no basis for reversal.

With regard to the valuation of the second and third businesses, however, the court found that the wife should receive 50% credit for their value. The court explained that equal distribution of marital assets is not mandatory, in cases where both spouses contribute equally to a long-lasting marriage, the courts should aim for an equal division.

In this particular case, the parties were married for 17 years, during which the plaintiff took care of the households and children, and she co-owned certain investments with the defendant. As such, the court granted her a greater share of the business’s value. Finally, the court dismissed the remainder of the wife’s claims regarding the division of assets as unavailing.

Consult an Experienced New York Divorce Attorney

The New York courts strive to distribute marital property in an equitable manner in divorce actions, but what constitutes a fair division of assets is often a highly disputed issue. If you intend to end your marriage, it is prudent to consult a divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Ksenia Rudyuk is an experienced New York divorce attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you seek a just outcome, and if you engage her services, she will zealously advocate on your behalf. You can reach Ms. Rudyuk via the form online or at 212-706-2001 to set up a conference.

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