Divorce can be a very stressful experience, especially as it relates to the division of marital property. When a couple divorces in New York, unless the parties agree otherwise, the court will divide their property in a way that is fair to both spouses, which is known as equitable distribution. In order to decide what is fair, the court considers several factors, including what each spouse contributed to the marriage and what resources each will need going forward. Thanks to a new law, a court dividing marital assets can also consider any history of violent behavior by one or both of the spouses.
As of April 2020, a provision was added to the Domestic Relations Law that formally makes domestic violence a factor in deciding how property is distributed in a New York divorce. Specifically, courts will consider whether either spouse has committed acts of domestic violence against the other and the nature, extent, duration and impact of such conduct. “Domestic violence” means any violent act committed against the other spouse that would constitute a violation of the penal law, including assault, sexual abuse and harassment.
New York courts already consider the occurrence of domestic violence in making sure custody arrangements are in the best interests of the children of a marriage. Now, it will play a role in property division as well. A court may look at all provable instances of domestic violence, not just serious and/or repeated acts. A court has discretion to give the victim as much property as may be deemed reasonable based on the circumstances.
Other factors a court takes into account when determining how to divide marital property include the following:
Equitable distribution is a complex process, so it is crucial to understand how occurrences of domestic violence in your marriage might affect the outcome. A property division attorney can help you obtain your fair share of the marital assets by making the strongest case possible based on all relevant factors.
If you have questions about divorce and the equitable distribution of your property, the Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis can help. Call 716-886-9600 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation. We have offices located in Williamsville and downtown Buffalo, and we represent clients throughout the Buffalo area and in Western New York.
As a Buffalo divorce lawyer for 28 years, I have devoted myself to solving the problems that affect families throughout the Buffalo metropolitan area and Western New York. As a family law attorney, I make it my goal to create a partnership of trust with my clients. People put their trust in me to handle cases that can potentially have a long-lasting impact on not only their lives, but the lives of their family as well.
Alexandra M. Rockwood is a Senior Associate Attorney with the Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis & Associates and has been with the firm since early 2020. She primarily practices in the areas of matrimonial and family law, including divorce, child custody, and child support. Alexandra is a practicing matrimonial and family law attorney as…