Common Concerns and Confusions about Divorce Under New York Law

Gavel next to stack of money and wedding bands

Navigating a divorce in New York, especially amidst the complexities of high-net-worth assets and businesses, can be a challenging journey. Understanding the legal landscape is crucial for professionals and business owners facing a divorce, particularly in their later years, often referred to as a "Gray Divorce." Here, we elucidate six common misconceptions about divorce in New York State to provide clarity and aid in navigating this significant life transition.

1. Misconception About Asset Division

There's a common belief that all property will be split during a divorce, regardless of how it's titled. However, New York law differentiates between 'marital' and 'separate' property. While marital property, encompassing assets acquired during the marriage, is subject to division, separate property — such as assets owned prior to marriage, inheritances, and gifts from third parties — remains with the individual. Understanding this distinction is critical for protecting personal assets.

2. Equitable Distribution Doesn’t Mean Equal

The term "equitable distribution" often leads to the expectation of an equal 50/50 split. However, in New York, equitable means fair, not necessarily equal. The distribution considers several factors, including the marriage's duration, each spouse's financial situation, and contributions to the marriage, which can result in a division that may not be exactly equal but is deemed fair by the court.

3. Fault is Not a Primary Factor in Asset Division

In the past, fault grounds like adultery or abandonment played a significant role in divorce proceedings. However, with the introduction of no-fault divorce laws, such factors have become less significant, unless the misconduct is exceptionally severe. The focus has shifted towards a more equitable distribution of assets without considering marital fault.

4. Changes in Tax Laws Affecting Spousal Support

Spousal support or alimony laws have undergone changes. Previously, alimony was tax-deductible for the payer and taxable for the recipient. Post-2018, this is no longer the case, aligning the tax treatment of spousal support more closely with that of child support. This change has a notable impact on financial planning during and after a divorce.

5. Health Insurance Coverage Post-Divorce

There's often concern about losing health insurance coverage provided by a spouse's plan post-divorce. While New York law mandates that this coverage continue during the divorce process, the scenario changes post-divorce. Options like COBRA and marketplace insurance become vital considerations, especially in Gray Divorces where health concerns are more prevalent.

6. Custody: Beyond Physical Time with Children

Custody is frequently misinterpreted as primarily concerning physical time with children. In reality, legal custody in New York refers to the authority to make significant decisions about the child's life, such as education and healthcare. This legal aspect is crucial in co-parenting, irrespective of the amount of physical time spent with the child.

Understanding these misconceptions can significantly impact the approach and expectations from a divorce proceeding in New York. For licensed professionals, corporate executives, or small business owners, particularly those experiencing a Gray Divorce, comprehending these aspects is vital for a fair and informed resolution.

If you are facing concerns related to a similar issue or if you have questions about your Matrimonial situation, please feel free to contact us here. We have many years of experience handling such matters and will be able to assist you in resolving the dispute.

To learn more about these topics, you may want to review our information provided on these pages: Matrimonial Law, Gray Divorce, High Net Worth Divorce, Equitable Distribution, Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements, and Business Divorces.

You may learn more about us and how we operate by visiting these pages: About Us, What Sets Us Apart, and Learn More About Us.