East NotaryLawHow Property is Divided in Family Law Divorces
East NotaryLawHow Property is Divided in Family Law Divorces

How Property is Divided in Family Law Divorces

how property is divided in family law

Property division is a process which occurs during divorce or separation and involves dividing assets and debts between spouses. The first step involves classifying any relevant property as either separate or community property.

Some couples may be surprised to learn that ownership doesn’t depend solely on what name appears on an account or asset. Commingling separate and marital property, or paying expenses related to separate property with joint funds can change its nature significantly.


Classifying property has an enormous effect on how assets and debts are divided in New York divorces, for example the division of family owned businesses requires careful analysis of both its current value and potential future profit potential, with consideration given to earning capacities, age and health as part of this decision-making process.

Ascertaining marital and separate property can be confusing. Common examples include furniture, real estate, brokerage accounts, art, boats and savings accounts. Further complicating matters is when these assets become intertwined – such as when one spouse inherits or premarital property and spends marital funds to improve it or co-mingle or hide their ownership status; Petrelli Previtera has successfully assisted clients in uncovering any concealed income or assets and recovering their fair share of marital assets.


Failing to divide assets and debts evenly during a divorce or separation can create many complications. An experienced family law attorney can help individuals navigate this complex process to ensure a fair outcome.

Courts take an in-depth approach when dividing property. They determine which assets and debts belong to one spouse versus the other and assign values accordingly before determining how much each spouse should receive as their share.

Ascertaining an item’s worth can be challenging, particularly with complex assets like real estate and businesses. Furthermore, assigning accurate values for personal items like pets can also prove challenging.

Courts also take into account how and where couples acquired their assets and debts when dividing them, so if both you and your partner lived in different states during your marriage, those laws will apply when allocating property between you.

Personal Property

Personal property not subject to division in a divorce or separation action includes items owned prior to marriage by one spouse that were not included as part of their estate, gifts from third parties and personal injury awards for pain and suffering that are typically awarded directly to that individual spouse.

Under a process called commingling, separate property can become marital property through mixing by both spouses – for example when one deposits inheritance funds into a joint bank account – leading to complications when it comes time to divide assets in the future.

FMS Family Law Attorneys will work closely with you to make sure all assets are classified correctly. In New York, courts evaluate and divide marital and separate assets equitably under specific circumstances of each case – though this doesn’t always result in equal division between spouses.

Community Property

In nine states (including California and Texas), community property laws dictate that any assets acquired or created during marriage belong equally to both partners, regardless of whose name is attached to an item or account balance. This can include wages, salaries, commissions or bonuses earned during a marriage as well as investment and retirement accounts balances.

Exemptions exist for separate property, which encompasses anything owned prior to or acquired during marriage as gifts or non-marital inheritances. Separate property can become community property through commingling; thus keeping meticulous records is critical in safeguarding it from possible conversion.

Most states use equitable distribution to determine how assets and debts should be divided between spouses upon separation or divorce, which involves using case-specific factors like economic circumstances to decide what division of property would be fair. A judge will then take all factors into consideration before making their determinations. It is crucial that couples consider having prenuptial agreements prior to marriage which specify how their property should be divided upon separation or divorce.