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How will your divorce settlement affect your financial future?

Complex property division in a New York divorce requires carefully categorizing and evaluating the relevant property. For instance, is there separate property that should be excluded from equitable distribution?

Knowing exactly what property you are entitled to can have a significant bearing on divorce negotiations, and an attorney can help clarify matters if some types of marital property are less obvious to see than others. With that in mind, let's consider some kinds of marital property that are commonly overlooked or confused by divorcing spouses.

Intangible assets such as professional licenses or academic degrees can be categorized as marital property. For example, if one spouse postponed his or her career or stayed home to care for the kids while the other spouse went to school, then the resulting degree and its cost can be factored into the divorce settlement.

When spouses split marital duties such as tending to bank accounts and child care, there is the possibility that the spouse who stays away from financial matters will be left in the dark about the full extent of marital assets. Stock options, insurance policies, retirement accounts, intellectual property and business assets should all be considered in the division of marital property. Often these days, such investments have a higher value than more concrete assets such as a vehicle or a home.

In New York, marital assets and debts are divided equitably (not necessarily equally), so to ensure the best possible outcome in a divorce, spouses should be aware of the long-term financial consequences of the divorce settlement.

Source: Forbes, "Women: Be Equal Partners in Marital Finances," Jeff Landers, Nov. 6, 2013

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