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Addressing assets now may help with property division later

Though the idea of going through divorce may not be what many soon-to-marry or recently-married couples want to think about, it may be useful to do so. There can be many points of contention that come about during divorce, with property division being a major one. By planning ahead, New York residents could better protect themselves from such potential conflict, even if they never divorce.

When considering how assets should be divided during divorce, marital property is equitably distributed according to state law. This also means that any separate or nonmarital property will remain in sole possession of the original owner. However, there is a chance that some separate property could become marital property, such as commingling funds in a joint account.

If individuals would like to work toward protecting their assets, they may want to consider having separate accounts altogether. Parties may also want to think twice before adding a spouse's name to the title of a home or other property. Also, having records of when certain items were obtained could also help provide proof of their nonmarital status. The court will likely not simply take someone's word that an asset is separate property, especially if the other party involved contests that assertion.

A legally binding way that individuals could help protect their assets in the event of divorce is with a prenuptial or postnupital agreement. These agreements are made before or after the marriage, respectively, and can detail how New York couples would like their assets divided, what property should remain separate and how to deal with similar property division issues. Parties interested in taking this step may wish to gain reliable information from local legal resources.

Source: ABC News, "Liz Weston: You're married, but your assets don't have to be", Liz Weston, Feb. 12, 2018

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