One of the most important challenges that couples face when divorcing or legally separating is how to divide the assets and debts they acquired during the marriage. These assets and debts are called marital property. In New York, marital property is divided in a divorce based upon the legal concept of equitable distribution.
Typical assets to be divided include homes, businesses, bank and investment accounts, retirement accounts, stock options and other deferred compensation, vehicles, jewelry, antiques, and art. Typical debt to be divided includes mortgages, lines of credit, credit card debt, student loans (for the couple or their children) and personal loans.
It is important to clarify which assets and debts were accumulated prior to the marriage or inherited by one spouse during the marriage. These assets and debts are called separate property. When a spouse has contributed separate property to a marital asset, they may be entitled to a separate property credit against that asset.