The debts and assets that exist at the time of the divorce are all the court can divide--what doesn't exist cannot be "divided". That said, when dividing whatever there is available, the court will consider the parties' marital lifestyle and any circumstances that may have occurred in "contemplation of divorce" such as emptying bank accounts, or economically wasteful behavior. If your questions is anything more than hypothetical, speak to an attorney immediately! Good luck!
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The court usually will not look at what happened during the marriage (especially over 20 years). The court generally will not go back and judge or figure out how people chose to live/spend money while married. The courts would be packed if people getting divorced could say "he spent this, she spent that." The "marital estate" is what exists at the time the parties are getting divorced.
There is a theory called "dissipation of assets" that is when one spouse behaves in a way that reduces the value of the marital estate, however, again, the court usually just looks at the situation as it was around the time of the divorce and does not go back in time.
This is all very general information. Every situation is different. A consultation with an experienced matrimonial attorney would be the best course of action
* This information is general legal information and is not intended to be advice on your particular case. If you find the information helpful, please let me know by clicking the button!
A Court can consider the issue of marital waste in dividing what assets left, or possibly issue a distributive award to the non-wasteful spouse. For a full assessment, schedule a consultation with a NYC Divorce attorney.
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