One of the biggest parts of a divorce is who gets what. It’s often heard that the spouse gets half of everything, but is that necessarily true?

In New York, rather than split all marital properties exactly 50/50, the court splits things up equitably. This means that they gave split things up in different amounts based on different variables, to make it fair for both parties. For example, if one party has very little valuable separate property and the other has much more, they may be given more of the marital property in order to balance it out.

When splitting up property the court will only split up any marital property. Marital property is property that legally both you and your spouse have rights too. Personal property or separate property, is the opposite, only one person has the rights to it.

Separate Property includes:

  • Property that was attained and owned by either spouse prior to the marriage
  • An inheritance received by either spouse, whether it is before or after the marriage
  • A gift received by the husband or wife from a third party
  • Payment received for the pain and suffering portion in a personal injury judgment

Marital Property includes:

  • Any property acquired during the duration of the marriage

However, it is important to consider that specific cases may not fit into these categories. For example, it is possible for a degree to be considered marital property, under certain circumstances. If the degree was earned during the marriage and the spouse had helped pay for schooling, it may be considered marital property. This would require the spouse to pay some sum of money to the other as compensation. Another example is a spouse contributed to increasing the value of a property. Even if the spouse who made alterations to the property did not have claim to it before, if they were directly responsible for increasing its value, they could then receive some portion of its value upon divorce.

It is also possible for separate property to turn into marital property. For example if you put personal money or inheritance into a joint bank account, that money will then become marital property. If you had bought a house on your own and put your spouse’s name under it as well, that house then becomes marital property. Because differentiating marital property from separate property can get so tedious, it often helps to have a professional help you out, so that you can know what’s rightfully yours.

If you are interested in finding out more about the divorce processes or any matrimonial issues, contact our office at 718-539-1100 or email us at