Long Island Attorneys Help You Retain Assets Owned Before Marriage

Aggressive litigators protect your separate property during your divorce

Under New York’s Domestic Relations Law, you get to keep one hundred percent of your separate property in a divorce. However, that doesn’t mean that your spouse won’t try — and succeed — in attaching those assets. Unless you have experienced legal representation fighting for you, you stand to lose what is rightfully yours. Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. is Long Island’s largest law firm exclusively dedicated to family law and divorce. We’ve built our reputation by fighting vigorously for our clients for more than 20 years. You can rely on our team to make every effort to protect your assets.

Understanding how New York law treats separate property

For purposes of equitable distribution, there are two categories of property: separate and marital. Couples divide marital property, but each spouse keeps his or her own separate property. Separate property comprises:

  • Assets owned prior to the marriage — Spouses are allowed to keep any property they brought with them to the marriage.
  • Income derived from those assets during the marriage — If separate assets, such as savings, stock portfolios, real estate or businesses generate revenue, those funds may remain separate also.
  • Gifts and inheritance received during the marriage — Provided that bequests and gifts are designated for only one of the spouses, these remain separate property.
  • Assets declared separate by agreement — Couples who sign prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can make any arrangements they want regarding their property, including declaring items to be separate or marital.

However, you should be aware that your property’s status is not necessarily permanent. Any separate property can become marital if the owner bestows ownership rights on a spouse through an overt agreement or by commingling the assets. For example, if a couple moves into the husband’s house, but both contribute to the mortgage and maintenance from their own incomes, the wife gains ownership rights in proportion to her contributions. The same applies for a 401(k) that an employee opens before marrying. To the extent that one spouse is dependent on the other’s income, and contributes to the marriage as a homemaker and custodial parent, that dependent spouse gains an interest in the 401(k) funds that accumulate during the marriage, but does not have an equitable claim to the funds deposited before the marriage or their growth.

Guarding against the commingling of assets

We often represent clients who brought assets to a marriage and unwittingly commingled them with their marital estate. For example, if one spouse has an existing business and hires the other, the second spouse could gain an equitable interest in the company. If the non-owner spouse is more than an employee, directing operations and making decisions that lead to growth in the business, or if that spouse works for less than a competitive wage so that funds can be reinvested in the company, the non-owner spouse develops a strong case for shared ownership. In our practice, we represent both sides of this issue. Our attorneys work hard to compile facts that establish your ownership and litigate aggressively to protect your rights.

Turn to Long Island’s largest divorce law firm to secure your separate assets

Establishing a claim to separate property can be complicated. The experienced attorneys at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. are dedicated to helping you secure your assets. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us immediately at 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.