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Do I have to give my spouse half of everything?

New York law does not require that you split all of your assets in half with your spouse when you get a divorce. In fact, there are only a few states that abide by 50/50 rules. Even in these jurisdictions, your split would probably not be a simple half and half due to other legal concerns.

instead of equal, the New York property division laws are based on the theory of equitable division. That means that the value of what you receive must equate to the value of what your spouse receives, often based on your own individual contributions to the asset in question.

As mentioned in FindLaw, there are a number of different factors a New York judge would consider when deciding what fair and equitable property division means in your case. Examples include your future financial needs and your incomes. Beyond that, you may have either a simple or complex property division process, based on the type of asset.

A simple example might be a bank account you started after you got married and that you share with your spouse. It is likely that the court would decide that these commingled funds are marital property and that an equitable division means an equal division. You would probably each get half of such an account.

Some assets may be more complex. For example, what if you had a 401(k) that you started before you got married? In these cases, although you may view the account as yours in its entirety, the court might decide that your spouse deserved compensation for contributing to your success. Therefore, you may have to divide the account in some way after you separate the portion that is your own individual property.

If there is one general rule about asset division in New York, it is that each case should be taken individually. Therefore, do not regard this as legal advice to any material situation. It is only meant to give you a general background for the topic.

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Hall, Ricketts, Schuller & Gurbacki, P.C.
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