Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution: What Are the Differences?

divorcing couple arguing

When you say, “I do,” the last thing you’re likely thinking about is what will happen if you and your spouse get divorced. However, understanding what happens to his property is vital to protecting yourself if your marriage doesn’t work out. Property distribution varies from state to state, with New York falling under equitable distribution. If you’re unsure what happens to your property after you get divorced, you’ll want to keep reading. You’ll learn the difference between community property and equitable distribution while discovering how a Nassau County property distribution lawyer can help.

What Are Equitable Distribution and Community Property States?

When a couple gets divorced, the property they share will be distributed according to their state statute. Some states believe that all property, assets, and debts acquired during the marriage belong to both spouses. This is known as community property. With few exceptions, the property and funds are almost always distributed equally among the spouses, regardless of who paid for it.

One exception for community property is if funds were acquired before the marriage, even if they were used to purchase something during the marriage. For example, if Spouse A had a bank account with $20,000 before the marriage and used that money to buy a car after they were wed, the vehicle would still belong to Spouse A because they used funds acquired before marriage to make the purchase.

An equitable property state, like New York, does not believe that all martial assets acquired belong equally to both spouses. Instead, the court will distribute the property in a fair, but not necessarily equal, manner. This is influenced by a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income, their earning capabilities, and whether or not one spouse left their career to be a stay-at-home parent. However, there are a number of other factors the court will consider when dividing equitable property.

Do I Need an Attorney?

When getting divorced, having an attorney present is vital. This is crucial to ensuring you are protected and receive the property and funds you deserve after a divorce. For example, if you choose to be a stay-at-home parent, you may worry that you will not receive as much property as your spouse. However, a competent attorney can help show that your efforts as a homemaker ensured that your spouse could make their income, ensuring you receive a fair amount of assets for your contribution to the marriage.

If you’re going through a divorce, having an attorney to represent you is vital. Barrows Levy has the experience necessary to help guide you through the process of getting divorced. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case with one of our experienced attorneys.

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