The Law Firm That New Yorkers Trust

Home » Blog » Divorce » What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in New York?

What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in New York?

Divorce can be a complex and emotionally taxing process, and understanding what one is entitled to is crucial for planning and negotiations. In New York, both spouses have certain rights and entitlements under the law, regardless of gender. However, for this blog, we’ll specifically address common concerns about what a wife is entitled to during a divorce in New York. It’s important to note that while we refer to the wife in this context, the same conditions typically apply to husbands as well under New York’s equitable distribution laws.

What Are New York Equitable Distribution Laws?

What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in New York?

When a marriage ends in divorce in New York, the distribution of marital assets is governed by the state’s equitable distribution laws. Unlike “community property” states, where assets are typically split 50/50, equitable distribution aims to divide assets more fairly based on several factors. This approach recognizes that each marriage is unique and allows for flexibility in dividing assets.

What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in New York?

In a divorce in New York, a wife is entitled to equitable distribution of marital assets, spousal support (if applicable), and child support and custody arrangements that prioritize the best interests of any children involved. Here’s a detailed look at each of these entitlements:

Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets

New York is an equitable distribution state, which means that all marital property acquired during the marriage must be divided fairly, though not necessarily equally, between the spouses upon divorce. This includes:

  • Real Estate: Homes purchased during the marriage.
  • Income and Benefits: Wages, bonuses, and benefits accrued during the marriage.
  • Personal Property: Vehicles, furniture, and other tangible items purchased during the marriage.
  • Financial Assets: Bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts accumulated during the marriage.
  • Business Interests: Value accrued in businesses established during the marriage.

Separate property, such as inheritances, personal gifts, and assets owned before the marriage, generally remains with the individual to whom they belong and is not subject to division.

Spousal Support (Alimony)

Spousal support, or alimony, is not automatically granted and depends on several factors. New York courts consider the following when determining alimony:

  • Duration of the Marriage: Longer marriages may warrant longer support.
  • Age and Health of Both Spouses: Impacts earning capacity and needs.
  • Current and Future Earning Capacities: Includes the impact of one spouse sacrificing career advancement for the marriage or family.
  • Need for Education or Training: If one spouse needs to acquire skills or education to become self-sufficient.
  • Existence of Children: Their care often influences spousal support decisions.
  • Standard of Living During the Marriage: Attempts are made to ensure neither spouse experiences a drastic lifestyle change.
  • Contributions as a Homemaker: Non-financial contributions are also considered.

Child Custody and Support

If children are involved, custody arrangements are made based on their best interests. This can involve joint or sole custody decisions related to physical and legal custody. Child support is then determined based on state guidelines, which consider:

  • Income of Both Parents: The combined income affects the amount of support.
  • Number of Children: Support increases with the number of children.
  • Custody Arrangement: The child’s time with each parent can influence support.

Marital Home

The rights to the marital home can vary. If one spouse is the primary caregiver to the children, they might be awarded the right to live in the marital home temporarily or permanently to provide stability for the children.

How Are Assets Split in a Divorce in New York?

In a divorce in New York, assets are divided according to the principles of “equitable distribution.” This legal framework ensures that marital assets are distributed fairly between the spouses, though not equally. Here’s a breakdown of how assets are typically split during a divorce in New York:

1. Identification of Marital vs. Separate Property

The first step in dividing assets in a New York divorce is to distinguish between marital and separate property:

  • Marital Property: Includes most assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title. Examples include homes bought during the marriage, vehicles, furniture, income earned by either spouse and retirement accounts that accumulated value during the marriage.
  • Separate Property: Consists of assets acquired before the marriage, inheritances received by one spouse, gifts from third parties, personal injury awards, and any items purchased with or proceeds derived from these sources. Separate property also includes assets explicitly excluded from marital property by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

2. Evaluation of Assets

Once the marital property has been identified, it must be valued. This often involves appraisals and may require the assistance of financial experts, particularly for valuing complex assets such as businesses, stock options, or specialized retirement accounts.

3. Equitable Distribution Factors

In deciding how to distribute the assets equitably, the court considers several factors:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and health of both spouses.
  • The income and property of each spouse at the time of marriage and at the time of the divorce.
  • The need of a custodial parent to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects.
  • The loss of inheritance and pension rights upon dissolution of the marriage.
  • Any alimony or spousal maintenance granted.
  • Contributions and services of the spouse seeking the property as a spouse, parent, wage earner, and homemaker and to the career or career potential of the other spouse.
  • The liquid or non-liquid character of all marital property.
  • The probable future financial circumstances of each party.
  • The impossibility or difficulty of evaluating any asset or interest in a business, corporation, or profession, and the economic desirability of retaining such asset or interest intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
  • The tax consequences to each party.
  • The wasteful dissipation of assets by either spouse.
  • Any transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration.
  • Any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper.

4. Distribution of Assets

Using these factors, the court will determine the most equitable way to distribute the marital assets. This can result in various outcomes, such as one spouse receiving a larger share of the marital home in exchange for the other spouse keeping more of their retirement accounts or one spouse being awarded the business and compensating the other with equivalent value from other assets.

What To Do If You’re Considering Divorcing Your Wife in New York

If you’re considering divorcing your wife in New York, it’s essential to approach the process thoughtfully and with proper legal guidance. Here’s a structured guide on what to do if you find yourself in this situation:

Understand the Grounds for Divorce

Before initiating a divorce, understand the legal grounds under New York law. You can file for divorce based on no-fault grounds (an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for at least six months) or fault-based grounds (such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, or imprisonment).

Gather Financial Documentation

Compile comprehensive financial documentation. This includes tax returns, bank statements, investment accounts, retirement accounts, real estate deeds, vehicle titles, and debt information such as mortgages and credit cards. Accurate financial information is crucial for equitable asset distribution and determining alimony and child support.

Consider Your Living Arrangements

Consider your current living situation and what will be most practical during the divorce process. Deciding whether to stay in your marital home or move out can have legal implications, especially concerning custody arrangements and property division.

Plan for Child Custody and Support

If you have children, their well-being should be a top priority. Consider how custody arrangements should be handled. New York courts focus on the child’s best interests when making decisions about custody and support. It’s beneficial to consider how you and your spouse might handle co-parenting and whether you’ll need a formal parenting plan.

Consult with a Divorce Attorney

Consult a qualified divorce attorney who works in family law in New York. A family law attorney can provide legal advice tailored to your situation, help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and guide you through the complexities of the divorce process.

Consider Mediation or Collaborative Divorce

Before heading straight to litigation, consider alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaborative divorce. These methods can be less adversarial and costly, providing a more amicable resolution to your divorce.

Prepare for Emotional and Financial Changes

Divorce can be emotionally draining and financially challenging. Consider seeking support from therapists or counselors who specialize in helping individuals through divorce. Additionally, prepare for the financial realities of life post-divorce, which might include adjusting to a single income.

Discuss the Situation Openly If Possible

If it’s safe and feasible, discuss the decision to divorce with your wife. Direct communication might help manage expectations and facilitate a smoother divorce process, particularly if you pursue mediation or collaborative methods.

Document Everything

Keep a detailed record of all interactions and financial transactions during the divorce process. Documentation can be vital, especially if the divorce becomes contentious.

Stay Informed and Proactive

Stay informed about the legal process and actively participate in your case. Understanding the steps involved and maintaining communication with your lawyer can help ensure that your interests are adequately represented.

How a New York Divorce Lawyer Can Help – Cedeño Law Group, PLLC

Navigating a divorce in New York can be a complex and emotionally charged process. At Cedeño Law Group, PLLC, our dedicated team of experienced divorce lawyers is here to guide you through every step, ensuring that your rights are protected and your needs are met. Here’s how our divorce lawyers can assist you:

Legal Guidance

Our lawyers are well-versed in New York divorce laws and will provide you with experienced guidance tailored to your specific situation. Whether you’re dealing with a straightforward, uncontested divorce or a complex contested case, we understand the nuances of the law and can help navigate the legal system effectively.

Strategy Development

Every divorce case is unique, and developing a strategic approach is crucial. We work closely with you to understand your personal and financial goals, and craft a legal strategy to achieve the best possible outcomes for your situation. Whether negotiating a fair settlement or advocating for your interests in court, our approach is always tailored to your needs.

Equitable Distribution of Assets

New York follows the principles of equitable distribution, and determining what constitutes a fair property division can be challenging. Our lawyers have extensive experience assessing and valuing assets, from straightforward property divisions to complex cases involving businesses, investments, and retirement accounts. We ensure that your financial interests are safeguarded throughout the divorce process.

Child Custody and Support

Children’s well-being and future are likely your top priority if they are involved. We help you navigate the delicate issues of child custody and support, advocating for arrangements that best meet your children’s needs while also protecting your parental rights.

Spousal Support

Alimony, or spousal support, is a significant aspect of many divorces. Our attorneys will help you understand whether spousal support may be an issue in your divorce, calculate potential amounts, and negotiate terms that reflect fairness and equity, considering the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial circumstances, and other relevant factors.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

For many couples, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution offer a less adversarial approach to settling a divorce. Our lawyers are skilled in these techniques and can guide you through the process, helping to resolve disputes amicably and efficiently, which can save time, reduce costs, and lessen emotional stress.


When negotiations fail or if your case involves complex legal issues, having strong representation in court becomes essential. Our seasoned litigators are prepared to stand up for your rights in court, using their extensive knowledge and strategic acumen to present your case effectively.

Ongoing Support and Communication

We believe that communication is key to a successful attorney-client relationship. Throughout your divorce process, we keep you informed of all developments and are always available to answer your questions and address your concerns. We understand the emotional difficulties of divorce and offer compassionate support to help you manage the stress and challenges of the process.

Contact Cedeño Law Group, PLLC for  Divorce Representation

If you are navigating the complexities of divorce and want to ensure you receive the fair settlement you deserve, don’t go through it alone. At Cedeño Law Group, PLLC, our experienced divorce attorneys are dedicated to advocating for your rights and securing the best possible outcome for you. Contact us today for a confidential consultation and take the first step towards a brighter, more secure future. Reach out now to schedule your appointment and let us help you through this challenging time.

FAQs on Divorce and Asset Division in New York

How are assets divided in a New York divorce?

Assets are divided based on the principle of equitable distribution, which considers factors like the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial contributions, and future needs. This does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split but rather a fair division based on circumstances.

What is considered marital property versus separate property?

Marital property includes all assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title. Separate property includes assets acquired before the marriage, inheritances, personal gifts, and compensation for personal injuries.

Can I keep my inheritance in a divorce?

Generally, inheritances received by one spouse are considered separate property and are not subject to division unless they have been commingled with marital assets.

How is a spouse’s contribution as a homemaker considered in asset division?

A spouse’s role as a homemaker is valued as a significant contribution to the marriage and can influence the equitable distribution of assets, often resulting in compensatory financial considerations in the division process.

What happens to the family home in a divorce?

The family home can either be sold with proceeds divided, one spouse can buy out the other, or other arrangements can be made depending on financial situations and whether children are involved. The court will consider what is most equitable and practical.

Are retirement accounts divided in a divorce?

Yes, retirement accounts that either spouse contributes to during the marriage are considered marital property and subject to division under equitable distribution laws.

What if my spouse wasted our assets or racked up debt?

When dividing property, the court considers the wasteful dissipation of assets or irresponsible accumulation of debt. This can affect how assets and debts are allocated between spouses.

Can prenuptial agreements affect asset division?

Yes, if a valid prenuptial agreement exists, it can dictate how assets are divided, overriding the standard rules of equitable distribution if the court upholds the agreement.

How are assets valued during a divorce?

Assets are typically valued through appraisals and assessments at the time of the divorce, not at the time of separation or filing.

Can the division of assets be modified after the divorce is final?

Generally, the division of assets is final once the divorce decree is issued. However, if there was fraud, misrepresentation, or a significant mistake, the case might be reopened to adjust the division.





Recent Posts

How Can We Help?

Get started with an initial case evaluation.

Fields marked with an * are required

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

© 2024 Cedeño Law Group, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

Attorney Advertising | Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.