Reformation of an Agreement of Equitable Distribution is Not Easy

New York is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property is fairly (not necessarily equally) divided at divorce. Equitable division considers what each spouse contributed to the marriage in order to determine exactly what each spouse is entitled to and what they will need to move forward after the divorce.

Striving for a fair outcome, the judge will consider the following:

  • Each spouse’s age and health
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s income and property when they married and when they filed for divorce
  • Whether the court has awarded spousal maintenance
  • The liquid or non-liquid character of all marital property
  • The probable future circumstances of each spouse
  • The tax consequences to each spouse
  • Any interests in a business, corporation, or profession
  • Whether each spouse has wastefully dissipated marital assets

An agreement involving equitable distribution may not be changed (reformed) simply because one party's investments went south. A recent case before the Court of Appeals has determined that the husband, who agreed to pay a specific amount of money to his wife, was bound by the language of the Agreement regardless that his stock portfolio (invested in a Madoff account) was not worth the amount of money that the husband thought at the time of entering into the Agreement. The Agreement did not mention the Madoff account or any other funds from which the Husband was to pay his Wife; it simply stated a specific amount of money to be paid. Thus, this teaches us that it is often better to divide specific financial accounts rather than provide a payment of a specified sum of money in Equitable Distribution.

Imkin v. Blan, ...N.Y.3d..., ...N.Y.S.2d ..., 2012 WL 1080295 (April 3, 2012).

Questions about equitable distribution? Contact a New York divorce lawyer at Eiges & Orgel, PLLC to discuss your unique case. Fill out an online case evaluation form to get started.

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