New York Consolidated Laws, Domestic Relations Law

New York Adds Domestic Violence as a New Factor to Consider for Equitable Distribution

Domestic Relations Law §236 now includes domestic violence as a factor to consider when determining equitable distribution in New York.

The legislatures amended the Domestic Relations Law (DRL) §236B(5)(d) in April 2020 by adding a new factor that the court must consider in distributing properties between divorcing spouses.  The amended law essentially mandates that the court consider “whether either party has committed an act or acts of domestic violence, as described in [Social Services Law §459-a] against the other party and the nature, extent, duration, and impact of such act or acts.” DRL §236B(5)(d)(14).

Domestic violence causes physical, emotional, and psychological effects on the victim.  Thus, the legislatures believed that abuse within a marriage must be considered to appropriately resolve the issue of whether the victim should receive more than 50 percent of the marital assets.  This new change in the law significantly amended the old law, which awarded a victim of domestic violence more than 50 percent of the marital assets only if there were “egregious” acts of misconduct.

Since New York is an equitable distribution state, judges have a lot of discretion on how to distribute assets and debts.  According to the current law in New York, the word “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal”.  Therefore, judges now must consider whether to award one spouse that was a victim of domestic violence more than 50 percent of the marital assets.

With the amended Domestic Relations Law §236 in effect, a victim of domestic violence can now get more than fifty percent of marital property or pay less than 50 percent of the marital debt.  Marital property includes, but not limited to:

  • Real estate properties you and your spouse bought during the marriage
  • Personal properties, like cars, boats, furniture, and artwork you and your spouse bought during the marriage
  • Cash, securities, bank accounts, and retirement accounts obtained during the marriage

Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Brooklyn Can Help With Your Divorce Case

Deciding to end a marriage is never an easy decision, but it can be the best decision when domestic violence is happening.  It’s important for people who are considering a divorce to seek support from a divorce attorney to help them navigate through this major life-changing event.

A person has to consider hiring the best divorce lawyers in Brooklyn that are up to date with the changes in the law.  These top divorce lawyers in Brooklyn are here to help you during a difficult time.  If you are a victim of domestic violence and considering filing for a divorce, contact The Louis Law Firm, PLLC at (347) 926-3388 to schedule a free consultation and a strategy session.

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