Former New York governor and wife to end 19-year marriage

Divorcing a spouse after many years of marriage can raise complex property division issues. The divorcing couple may have real estate, business interests and high-value assets to split between themselves. A formal separation can be the first step on the road to filing an official divorce petition in New York State, as the situation between former Gov. David Paterson and his estranged wife demonstrates.

Late last month, a representative for Gov. Paterson confirmed to news agencies that the former New York executive official has separated from his wife of 19 years. The representative stated that the split was "mutual and amicable." The couple has not yet formally filed for divorce.

The relationship between Paterson and his wife has been a matter of public speculation since he took office in 2008. The day after Paterson began his term, he and his wife both admitted publicly to extramarital affairs.

Over the length of a marriage, the assets of couples become more inextricably intertwined as they pay down the mortgage together and improve their real estate, as they contribute to investment and retirement accounts and as they transfer property between each other. Unweaving these financial ties can be a particularly complicated process, especially for those couples with extensive assets.

In some cases, certain pieces of property cannot be split down the middle. Artwork, homes and items of sentimental value are just a few examples. Couples can work together to catalogue their assets and come to a fair and amicable resolution about what property they will receive at the end of the marriage.

Source: New York Post, "Ex-Gov. Paterson, wife split," Sept. 29, 2012

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