When a couple makes the decision to separate, one of the more difficult yet necessary questions to ask is, “How are we going to divide the property?” One of the factors that complicate divorce proceedings is the division of the couple’s property and assets. Often, couples do not agree to which property will go to which partner; this mostly leads to problems and conflict.
In Pennsylvania, property and assets at issue in a divorce can be divided into two ways. Couples can either elect to amicably resolve their divorce by dividing all property themselves or they can use the courts to divide property and assets. Pennsylvania courts divide property and assets under a theory of equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is a system based on “fairness” and not upon the equal division of marital property. State law holds that, under a theory of equitable distribution, all of the marital property—meaning property acquired during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled—is divided so long as it doesn’t fit into an exception. This is true even if one of the spouses did not earn a dime which contributes to the couple’s marital property. Therefore, under this theory, a spouse is, regardless, entitled to the percentage ownership of all marital property so long as the property does not fall within an exception.
How Do Courts Divide Property?
Under Pennsylvania’s equitable distribution approach, a court will use a series of factors to determine how to divide marital assets in a divorce proceeding. The factors include but are not limited to:
- The length of the marriage
- Any prior marriage of either party
- The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each of the parties
- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income
- The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits
- The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as a homemaker
- The value of the property set apart to each party
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage
- The economic circumstances of each party, including Federal, State, and local tax ramifications, at the time the division of property is to become effective
- Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children
Pennsylvania courts do not take marital misconduct into account whenever distributing marital assets and property.
Call our office at (215) 515-8464 for more information.
Going through a divorce does not need to be a bigger headache than it already is. You and your spouse should divide all marital property in a manner that is fair. This is often not the case. Whenever you are faced with complications regarding the division of property following a divorce, you should see the advice of an attorney to ensure you are receiving your fair share. The experienced divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Smith & Horwitz will help you receive your fair share of marital property. Call us today at (215) 515-8464 for a free consultation.