Navigating Divorce in New York State: Divorce Your Spouse – Not Your Money or Your Children

By Esther Claudette Gittens

Divorce is an emotionally charged process that often brings financial and familial concerns to the forefront. In New York State, where divorce laws are well-established, it is crucial to understand why divorcing spouses should focus on separating from each other rather than from their financial assets or children. This analysis delves into the reasons why maintaining financial stability and prioritizing the well-being of children is paramount, even when a marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Legal Framework of Divorce in New York State – Grounds for Divorce

New York State allows for both no-fault and fault-based divorces. The most common ground for divorce is an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” which means that the relationship has been broken for at least six months. This no-fault option simplifies the divorce process by avoiding the need to prove wrongdoing by either party.

Equitable Distribution

New York follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that marital assets and debts are divided fairly, though not necessarily equally. The court considers various factors, such as the length of the marriage, the income and property of each spouse, and the contributions of each party to the marriage.

Child Custody and Support

The best interests of the child are paramount in custody decisions. Courts consider factors such as the child’s health and safety, the primary caregiver’s role, and the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s emotional and financial needs. Child support is determined based on a formula that considers the income of both parents and the needs of the child.

Why Not Divorce Your Money or Children?

  • Financial Stability – Maintaining a Standard of Living

Divorcing spouses should strive to maintain financial stability to ensure that both parties can continue to support themselves and their children post-divorce. Disrupting financial assets can lead to unnecessary hardship and instability, affecting both the custodial and non-custodial parent.

  • Equitable Distribution

Equitable distribution does not mean equal, but rather fair. It takes into account each spouse’s contributions, both financial and non-financial, to the marriage. By focusing on fair distribution, both parties can emerge from the divorce with a sense of security and fairness.

  • Future Financial Security

Preserving financial assets and negotiating a fair settlement can ensure that both spouses have the resources needed for their future. This includes retirement funds, property, and other investments that are crucial for long-term financial health.

Prioritizing Children’s Well-Being

  • Emotional Stability

Children are highly sensitive to the emotional climate of their parents. By ensuring that the divorce process is as amicable and stable as possible, parents can help their children navigate the transition more smoothly. Hostility and financial disputes can exacerbate children’s stress and anxiety.

  • Consistent Parenting

Co-parenting arrangements should be designed to provide stability and consistency for the children. This involves working together to maintain routines, enforce rules, and provide a united front in decision-making. Stability in parenting helps children adjust to the new family dynamics.

  • Financial Support

Ensuring adequate child support is crucial. The child support formula in New York is designed to provide for the child’s needs based on the combined income of both parents. This support covers essentials like education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities, contributing to the child’s overall well-being.

The Dangers of Focusing on Financial and Custodial Battles

  • Financial Strain – Legal Costs

Protracted financial disputes can lead to significant legal expenses, depleting the very resources that are meant to support both spouses and their children post-divorce. By focusing on an amicable settlement, couples can minimize legal costs.

  • Asset Liquidation

In contentious divorces, there is a risk that valuable assets may need to be liquidated to satisfy settlements or legal fees. This can lead to long-term financial loss for both parties. Preserving assets through negotiation is generally more beneficial.

  • Emotional Toll – Parental Conflict

High-conflict divorces can take an emotional toll on children. Witnessing parental disputes over finances or custody can lead to feelings of insecurity and divided loyalty. Protecting children from such conflict is crucial for their emotional health.

  • Impact on Relationships

Bitter financial and custodial battles can damage relationships between parents and children. It is important to foster a positive co-parenting relationship to ensure that children maintain strong, healthy bonds with both parents.

Strategies for an Amicable Divorce – Mediation and Collaborative Law

  • Mediation

Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps the divorcing couple negotiate an agreement. This process is often less adversarial and can help couples reach a fair settlement while minimizing conflict and legal costs.

  • Collaborative Law

In collaborative law, each spouse has an attorney, but all parties agree to resolve disputes without going to court. This approach focuses on negotiation and problem-solving, aiming for a mutually beneficial outcome.

  • Focus on Communication – Open Dialogue

Maintaining open and respectful communication can help spouses address concerns and reach agreements more effectively. Clear communication helps prevent misunderstandings and reduces the likelihood of conflict.

  • Child-Centered Discussions

When discussing custody and support, parents should focus on what is best for their children. By prioritizing the child’s needs, parents can often find common ground and develop more effective co-parenting strategies.

  • Professional Guidance – Financial Advisors

Consulting with financial advisors can help both spouses understand their financial situation and plan for the future. Advisors can provide valuable insights into asset division, tax implications, and long-term financial planning.

  • Therapists and Counselors

Engaging with therapists or counselors can provide emotional support and guidance during the divorce process. Mental health professionals can help both spouses and children cope with the emotional challenges of divorce.


In New York State, focusing on the dissolution of the marital relationship rather than on financial or custodial battles can lead to a more equitable, stable, and emotionally healthy outcome for all parties involved. By maintaining financial stability, prioritizing the well-being of children, and employing strategies for amicable resolution, divorcing spouses can navigate the process more effectively and ensure a smoother transition to post-divorce life. Ultimately, an approach centered on fairness, communication, and professional support can help both spouses and their children emerge from the divorce with resilience and stability.

Legal Guidance

Diamonds are forever; marriages are not. If you are considering a divorce or separation, consult with the compassionate and experienced team at the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates. Call 855-768-8845 or visit to book a consultation. The lawyer you hire does make a difference!

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