Couples in Westchester County have ways to control how their property is divided in the event they get a divorce. One of those ways is to make sure separate property owned by the spouses does not turn into marital property. Since marital property is often divided in a New York divorce settlement, you stand a chance of losing something precious or valuable if it is not maintained as separate property.
Nerdwallet explains how couples may keep their separate property separate and to protect it from being considered marital property. One of these methods is to make sure you and your spouse have separate accounts for assets that are separate property. These accounts should also be used to pay for or to maintain property that is also separate. If separate property is paid for with marital funds, that property could become marital property as well.
If you own real estate, be careful about adding a spouse to a title. In addition to problems that may arise in a divorce, you also run the risk of involving other people that might end up with a claim to your property. For instance, if your spouse passes away, children of your spouse from a prior marriage may end up with ownership claims to your property. Also, if you use marital assets to improve the property or pay the mortgage, the property could become marital property.
Keeping your separate property carefully documented can also be a benefit. If you have assets or property that is not marital property, you should be ready to prove it. Account statements can help show that you have money that is not commingled with martial assets, like money you receive from a personal injury settlement. Also, if you receive money from parents as an inheritance, a copy of their will can help demonstrate the existence of the inheritance. Other documents can include copies of checks accepted as gifts.
Some couples compose prenuptial agreements to separate property into marital and separate categories. If you are married without a prenup, it is not too late to draft a postnuptial agreement that addresses property issues. You and your spouse may desire that your assets be divided differently than how a divorce court may decide to go about it. A postnup can be helpful in this regard.
Finally, be aware that your separate property may experience value appreciation. FindLaw explains that over the course of a marriage, some properties such as a home or a vehicle can increase in value. Depending on how active a role your spouse played in increasing the value of your property, your spouse may be entitled to some of the added value in a divorce settlement.