Dividing up all the assets you acquired during the your marriage can be one of the most complicated parts of your divorce. Under the laws of equitable division, Pennsylvania divorces generally do not end with each spouse getting exactly 50 percent of the marital property. Unlike in community property states, family court judges in equitable distribution states have a great deal of discretion to divide the marital property between divorcing spouses in a fair and equitable manner.
How is property divided in a divorce?
Assets belonging to one or both spouses will be categorized as either separate or marital property.
- Marital property refers to property or assets acquired by the couple during the marriage (e.g. marital home, joint bank account).
- Separate property refers to property brought into the marriage, acquired after separation, or given to only one spouse during the marriage (e.g. gifts, inheritances).
Separate property can sometimes become marital property over time, if it commingles with marital property (e.g. using marital funds to pay mortgage on home purchased by one spouse prior to marriage).
Once the property has been categorized, it is time to determine the value of each marital asset using a variety of valuation methods. The court will then determine how to equitably distribute the property, considering various factors, including:
- Length of the marriage
- Earning power of each spouse
- Spousal contributions to the marriage
- Amount of marital property
Property division in a divorce can be complicated, but a family law attorney can assist you with the process and get your divorce finalized in a timely manner.