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When Separate Property Can Become Martial Property In New York

Often a hotly contested issue for divorcing couples, property division can be quite difficult to resolve satisfactorily. New York has specific laws that the court and individual parties are expected to abide by, but that doesn’t mean the outcome is always mutually agreeable. Nowhere is this truer than in the realm of separate versus marital property.

“What’s mine is yours” tends to fly out the window during a divorce and with good reason. Spouses want to protect what is rightfully theirs, even if some portion of their property was acquired during the marriage. But how does the state categorize separate property in divorce? Keep reading to find out.


New York follows an equitable distribution system. This means that all measures will be taken to divide property as equitably as possible, which doesn’t necessarily mean fairly. Exempt from this system of division is separate property.

The state considers all of the following to be separate property:

  • Property either spouse acquired before marriage
  • Property either spouse received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage
  • Personal injury compensation to either spouse
  • Property classified as separate in a prenuptial agreement
  • Property acquired from the proceeds or appreciation in value of separate property

That last one is where things can get tricky. If the property that grew in value did so partly because of the other spouse’s contributions or efforts, the court may consider it marital property and valid for distribution. Most spouses will do whatever they can to argue this point, but it is consistently upheld in courts throughout New York. This is why legal representation is so critical during divorce.

At Peter L. Cedeño Associates, P.C., we understand how highly you value your assets and property. Divorce shouldn’t change this and we’re here to help. With our 20 years of legal experience, we can represent you throughout the property distribution process and will do whatever we can to help you secure a favorable outcome.

Schedule a consultation today to learn why our New York City divorce attorneys are some of the most trusted by residents throughout the state.




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