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Marital property and separate property in New York

It can be tricky trying to figure out in which category your property falls when getting divorced in New York. There are two main categories: marital property and separate property. Determining which asset goes where is vital to the division of property in a divorce case.

Let's begin with marital property, since this is the property that will be subject to division when the couple files for divorce. Marital property includes any and all real property you purchased during the marriage with your spouse. These items include, but are not limited to, the following:

- Cars, boats, furniture, artwork, planes and other items purchased during the marriage.

- Bank accounts, cash, securities, stocks and retirement accounts opened during the marriage.

- Permits for specialized business and any educational degrees acquired during the marriage.

Separate property is defined as any and all real or personal property owned or obtained prior to the marriage. It also includes any property obtained via inheritance during the marriage that came from someone other than your spouse. Compensation awarded to you during the marriage for personal injuries is also separate property if not for lost wages or earning capacity.

Other separate property items include:

- Property acquired in exchange for separate property during a marriage.

- Any and all property described or labeled as separate property in a written agreement between both parties of the marriage.

- Increase in value of your separate property during marriage unless the increase was due to the efforts of your spouse.

Separate property will remain your property after a divorce and the same goes for your spouse and their separate property. If you and your spouse are having trouble determining what items are separate property and what items are marital property, a judge in a family law court will be able to make the determination for you.

An experienced divorce attorney in Suffolk County, New York, can explain property division to you and help you with a divorce.

Source: New York City Bar, "Divorce & Property Rights," accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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