Marital & Separate Property

Sound Property Division Strategies BeginWith Solid Characterization Analysis?

Divorce lawyers use the term “characterization issues” to describe uncertainties or disputes over the composition of the marital estate subject to division between the spouses. At the New York matrimonial law firm of Figeroux & Associates, we pay careful attention to each spouse’s property disclosures so that we can accurately identify the property subject to division, the property each spouse will keep, and the best ways to deal with marital debt.

In the process, we will identify and investigate the potential marital or separate property characterization issues that are likely to come up, including the resolution of problems related to the recovery of payments made on the other spouse’s separate debt.  Contact the New York marital property lawyers at our law firm to learn how experienced divorce counsel can protect your interests in characterization disputes.

Distinguishing Marital Property From Separate Property

As a general rule, assets and liabilities acquired by a spouse before marriage will be treated as that spouse’s separate property, while the property and debts accumulated during the marriage will make up the marital estate to be divided in divorce. Exceptions to the general rule include property acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage, which is presumed to be separate property.  Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements can also alter the character of an asset, such as by stipulating that the income from a particular source will remain separate property, or by providing for the payment of separate debts with marital income without any future right of recovery. As long as the terms of the agreement are fair and based on full disclosure, a prenup can significantly change the characterization dynamics of the property issues in a given divorce.

New York Property Characterization Lawyers: Call 718-222-3155.

Just because an asset is presumptively characterized as marital or separate doesn’t mean it will necessarily stay that way. The way the spouses treated their assets and liabilities during the marriage can result in the commingling of separate assets into the marital property, thereby losing the separate character. Disputes can arise over one spouse’s contribution to the maintenance or improvement of a separate asset — the classic example would be both spouses’ contributions to mortgage payments or repair expenses for a marital home purchased by one of the spouses before the marriage.

The appreciation in value of a premarital asset like a partnership interest, a professional degree an occupational certificate during the marriage can also be difficult to characterize. For some divorcing professionals, the proper characterization and valuation of these assets will represent the biggest problem to solve in achieving a fair distribution of marital property.

Characterization Precedes Valuation in New York Divorce

Anyone considering an uncontested divorce or stipulated property settlement covering assets of substantial value should get a lawyer’s advice before committing to any particular distribution plan. Without specific guidance, unrepresented divorce spouses will often give away interests in separate property, overlook rights in marital property, or fail to distinguish between the separate and marital components of assets of mixed character.

To protect your interests in the property division aspects of a New York divorce. contact the property characterization attorneys of Figeroux & Associates in New York.


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