In New York, the Equitable Distribution Law requires that a judge divides the property from a marriage fairly. This doesn’t mean that the property will be split 50/50. It means that there are two types of property recognized during a divorce: separate property and marital property. The latter is the one that will be divided up between the two spouses.

Separate property is what one spouse owned before he or she got married. It can also include personal injury payments, inheritances or gifts from someone besides the spouse during a marriage. Marital property is all of the property that was purchased during the marriage, and it doesn’t matter which spouse paid for it or whose name is on it. Retirement plans and pension plans are also considered marital property. Distribution of marital property is based upon various factors that are presented to the court.

If you and your spouse can agree on some points of your divorce but not others, you may want to consider using alternative dispute resolution processes like collaborative family law or divorce mediation. These can often save you time and money, while making the divorce process less stressful.

When it comes to divorce, understand that there are emotions at play. It can be easy to get caught up in those emotions, such as wanting to “win” the divorce battle. The truth is that most people don’t “win” during a divorce — they simply hope to leave the marriage and start their life anew as a single person. An attorney can help you realize what assets are important to fight for and which ones to simply let go of.

Source: nycourts.gov, “What is the Equitable Distribution Law?,” accessed July 01, 2016