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Domestic Violence Is Now a Factor in New York Equitable Distribution Decisions

New York’s equitable distribution law states that when a divorcing couple cannot agree on how they want the marital property to be divided, the judge decides what is fair and equitable. This does not have to be an even split in value. Though the judge may look at any relevant information when making a decision, state law lists a series of factors that must be considered. Thanks to recent legislation, any spousal history of domestic violence is now required to be included within the equitable distribution analysis.

Under the state’s Social Services Law, numerous types of criminal acts are classified as domestic violence when committed by a spouse. If you are getting a divorce after being abused by your husband or wife, you should document the specific acts and how long the mistreatment lasted. It might be necessary to obtain an order of protection, even if an incident has not occurred in a while, because the legal proceedings might increase tension. Speaking with a qualified family lawyer will give you the information you need on protection orders as well as the potential impact of domestic violence on your property division result.

With the domestic violence provision and the recently enacted law regarding pets owned by a married couple, New York Domestic Relations Law Section 236 now lists 15 factors that judges must consider when determining an equitable division of property. These include:

  • The duration of the marriage, along with the age and health of both parties
  • The income and property of each party at the time of the marriage and the outset of the divorce proceeding
  • Contributions to the marital estate made by each spouse
  • Whether any maintenance (alimony) is being ordered
  • The need of a custodial parent to remain in the marital home and retain household items
  • Whether either spouse wasted marital assets

Before you agree to a property division settlement, it’s wise to speak to an experienced New York divorce lawyer who can assess how the required equitable distribution factors and any other pertinent information would affect your case.

Whether you have been victimized in your home or are accused of domestic violence by your soon-to-be ex, the Long Island attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP offer comprehensive counsel on divorce proceedings and related issues. Throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties, we have earned a reputation for helping guide clients through difficult times.