Enhanced Earnings Capacity

In the state of New York, equitable distribution rules are used to divide marital property. In order to distribute property equitably, it must first be determined what constitutes property or “assets” that are subject to distribution.

In 1985, in a case called O’Brien v. O’Brien 66 N.Y. 2d 576, the New York Court of Appeals held that a medical license should constitute marital property for purposes of equitable distribution. As such, the spouse without the professional license may be entitled to receive a share of the increased earnings that the professional license will make possible. This “enhanced earnings capacity” now must be calculated in a divorce for purposes of dividing marital property.

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