Divorce Settlements Depend on the Paying Spouse’s Resources
The financial implications of divorce are often what cause the most conflict. This can be particularly true when one spouse brought significantly more assets into the marriage or earned a higher income during the marriage. When a couple like this gets divorced, each spouse has concerns. The spouse who is more well-off probably doesn’t like the idea of losing large amounts of property, while the less-well-off spouse is worried about being left in poor financial condition.
If the couple happened to sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it can form the basis for any eventual property settlement. Of course, such an agreement can be challenged in court, but if it meets New York’s legal requirements, the judge will likely uphold it and require assets to be divided according to the agreed-upon terms.
But relatively few couples have prenup or postnup agreements. Most divorcing couples must instead negotiate a property settlement between themselves with the help of their attorneys, and possibly a mediator, or else submit the issue to the court. In the latter event, the judge will apply New York’s law of equitable distribution. This means dividing assets and debts in a way that is fair, but not necessarily equally. Courts will consider many factors, including:
- Assets of each spouse at the beginning of the marriage and at the time of divorce
- Length of marriage (the longer the marriage, the more assets the less-well-off spouse usually gets)
- Child custody arrangements (the spouse who gets custody may need to live in the marital home, for example)
- Age and health of each spouse
- Any alimony and/or child support the court plans to award (use our calculator to get a sense for how much support could be awarded in your case)
- Whether a spouse wasted or burned through marital property during the divorce process
- Whether a spouse transferred marital property to a third party or sold it at less than market value to avoid it going to the other spouse in divorce
The outcome of this distribution process varies widely case by case. However, in general, a spouse who has vastly more assets than the other usually loses a substantial part of his or her wealth but still ends up with a large percentage of the property. The wealthier spouse may also have to pay substantial alimony for a period of time to ensure the other spouse has adequate means until he or she can become self-supporting.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., is home to a team of Long Island divorce attorneys who can protect your rights and your financial future. Call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We serve Nassau County, Suffolk County and all of Long Island.