When couples get divorced, one of the first thing that they do with their attorney is discuss what they want in the division, and spouses begin to strategize (on their own) how to get what they want. Part of that “strategizing” is often misguided by some inconsistent myths about divorce, division of property, and what each spouse is entitled to.
Myth #1: Any money you deposit into your account during and before the marriage is yours!
Although I am not insinuating that spouses are always preparing for divorce during the marriage, if you examine common behavior, it might look a bit differently. For instance, many individuals believe that if they keep a separate bank account during the marriage, then, in the case of divorce, their soon-to-be ex will not be entitled to any of those assets. However, depending on where this money came from, it could be argued otherwise – even if the account is in your name. Marital funds, as they are called, is income or money acquired during the marriage (a very encompassing term). Therefore, any funds you deposit into that separate account during the marriage can be deemed as marital property, and therefore, your spouse has some claim of interest in it. So unless you are very scrupulous about how you separate your money, don’t be so sure that your separate bank account is only yours.
Myth #2: If I paid for the house, it doesn’t matter whose name is on the deed! And in a divorce, I keep either the house or the payment if it is sold!
With regards to the division of property, it is again influenced by certain factors. For instance, if you previously owned the property solely, and your name is the only one on it during the duration of the marriage and during the divorce, then you have a really good probability of retaining the home. However, if you re-titled the property so that now, your spouse is listed as a co-owner, the court will find the house to be marital property.
In addition, any funds you spend on the home during the marriage (remember that these are now marital funds) can lead to an increase in the value of the property, in which case this increased value gives the non-owning spouse a vested interest in the property. In short, whose name is on the deed has a strong chance of retaining the property, but how the property was maintained and used can come into play as well.
Divorce cases which involve distribution or division of numerous and substantial assets require special skills and expertise to ensure proper valuation and accounting. Contact Paul E Rudder, Esq. today for expert legal advice. Call 212-826-9900 to set up an appointment.