Divorces aren’t always amicable. Some of our clients ask us: What should I do if my soon to be ex takes retaliatory actions, such as destroying property we own or wasting money on large expenses? In today’s post, our New York City divorce lawyers provide insight on dealing with this type of situation. Remember, this isn’t legal guidance—this is general information to help you strategize your next steps.
What Is Considered “Marital Property” in New York?
In the state of New York, property acquired by both spouses or either spouse during the marriage is considered “marital property,” unless the couple has drawn up a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that states otherwise. Examples of marital property may include vehicles, real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, art, pension benefits, recreational vehicles, and all other types of assets. This law can be read in its entirety in article 13 of the New York Code – Domestic Relations (Dom. Rel. Law § 236).
What Is Considered “Separate Property” in New York?
Some property may be considered “separate property”—i.e., belong to you or your spouse only rather than to you both as a couple. In order for this separate property to remain separate, you must not “commingle” it with your spouse.
Some examples of separate property are:
- Gifts / inheritance from a third party who is not the spouse
- Property spelled out in a prenuptial / postnuptial agreement
- Property you owned before you were married
- Compensation in a personal injury lawsuit
What Can I Do to Protect My Property?
You can seek out an order for non-dissipation of property. This means that your spouse may not sell, liquidate, destroy, or otherwise get rid of or devalue any possessions until proper asset distribution has taken place. If you know or suspect that your spouse has already destroyed some of your property or wasted large amounts of money, you can also ask that these items be accounted for. Note that any such orders will be mutual—meaning they will also pertain to you.
If you already had an order for non-dissipation of property, ask your attorney about pursuing remediation for contempt of the order. Obtain evidence of the property destruction, and list the value of the property that was destroyed. When your marital assets are divided as part of the divorce process, talk to an attorney about your options. You may want to ask for a “credit” for the wasted or dissipated property.
Contact Peter L. Cedeño & Associates, P.C.
At Peter L. Cedeño & Associates, P.C., we offer tough advocacy for clients facing challenging divorce cases. Call Peter L. Cedeño & Associates, P.C. if you are in need of representation and counsel at this time.