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New York Marital Property Laws

New York Marital Property Laws at a Glance

New York is an equitable division state, which means each spouse owns the income he or she earns during the marriage, and also has the right to manage any property that's in his or her name alone. But at divorce, whose name is on what property isn't the only deciding factor. A judge will determine an equitable division of assets, which may or may not be exactly equal.

How Does Equitable Distribution Work?

When New York was a community property state, property was divided according to whose name was on the title of a given property. So even if both spouses paid into the mortgage (or one was an unpaid homemaker), for example, the individual whose name is on the title would get the house. The goal of equitable distribution in a divorce is to make sure it is fair, with respect to the contributions of each spouse to the marriage and what each party needs after the split.

In New York, a judge will consider the following factors in order to devise a fair distribution of property (this is not a complete list, just some examples):

  • The income and property of each spouse at the date of marriage and the date of the divorce filing.
  • The age and health of each spouse.
  • The domestic requirements of the custodial parent.
  • Whether alimony has been awarded.
  • Likely future financial needs of each spouse.

The Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act

The Empire State has adopted the Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act, a 1971 piece of model legislation that more than a dozen states without community property laws have adopted. Generally, it preserves the community property ownership rights of each spouse if they move from a community property state to a non-community property state (such as New York).

The following table provides a few basics of New York's marital property laws. See Community Property Overview and Divorce Property Division FAQ to learn more.

Community Property Recognized? No, but Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act (UDCPRDA) adopted. (Estates, Powers and Trusts Laws §§6-6.1, et seq.)
Dower And Curtesy Certain dower rights for widow of marriage before September 1, 1930 (Real Property Law §§190, 190b); curtesy abolished (Real Property Law §189-certain rights remain for widower of woman who died on or before August 31, 1930)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a New York family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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