Saturday, September 12, 2009

NEW EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION RULES IN DIVORCE

Today, health care and medical insurance coverage are heated topics. And for those going through divorce, medical coverage has always been an issue. Effective September 21, 2009, the loss of health insurance benefits will be one of the enumerated factors to be considered in determining maintenance and equitable distribution. The other factors contained in Domestic Relations Law 236 Part B include:
a) the income and property of the respective parties including marital property distributed;
b) the duration of the marriage and the age and health of both parties;
c) the present and future earning capacity of both parties;
d) the ability of the party seeking maintenance to become self supporting and, if applicable, the period of time and training necessary therefor;
e) reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance as a result of having foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities during the marriage;
f) the presence of children of the marriage in the respective homes of the parties;
g) the tax consequences to each party;
h) contributions and services of the party seeking maintenance as a spouse, parent, wage earner and homemaker, and to the career or career potential of the other party;
i) the wasteful dissipation of marital property by either spouse;
j) any transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration; and
k) any other factor which the Court shall expressly find to be just and proper.
Even though the consideration of the cost or loss of medical insurance was not expressly provided for in the Domestic Relations Law, courts were always empowered to consider it under the catch-all "any other factor . . . the Court found to be proper" contained DRL 236. The new law, however, makes consideration of the cost of health insurance mandatory.

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