Marital Misconduct and Equitable Distribution


Marital Misconduct and Equitable Distribution

Many divorce cases include the allocation of marital debts and assets between former spouses.  In Pennsylvania, this process is called Equitable Distribution.  Pennsylvania courts apply several different statute-based factors in deciding how best to distribute all assets and debts that parties accumulate from the date of their marriage up to their date of separation.  But what happens in a case where one spouse was never made aware of the other’s spending?  Should a line of credit taken out during the marriage be a shared burden where it was hidden from the other party during the marriage?  If that hidden credit card is used for hotel rooms and lavish gifts for a paramour, is it “equitable” for that debt to be included in equitable distribution?  The answer, like many things in law, is “it depends.”

Where a marriage ends because of one spouse’s infidelity, the injured spouse may be able to recover marital funds that were spent “outside of the marriage.”  To do so, the party seeking to recover those lost funds must present evidence to support his or her claim that the money was spent in furtherance of an extramarital affair, and, that the injured spouse was not aware.  While bank statements will be useful, they may not tip the scales without other corroborating evidence.  This can include a private investigator’s report, phone records or text messages, and sworn testimony of the parties.  In some cases, the paramour may have never even been aware that they were involved with a married person and could be willing to testify to the extent and duration of the affair.

Successful trial attorneys don’t simply present evidence to the court, they do so in a way that tells a compelling and persuasive narrative, grounded in both fact and emotion.  This is especially true in family law.  At LaMonaca Law, our attorneys’ decades of litigation experience help our clients attain the result that they are entitled to whether by agreement or via the courts system.  If you have recently learned of a spouse’s infidelity and would like to discuss how best to protect your interests in divorce, call us at (610) 892 3877 and speak with one of our attorneys.

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About the author

About Christopher Casserly

Chris joined the firm in 2013 after graduating from Villanova University School of Law. While at Villanova Chris focused on Family Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution. In addition, he participated in the Villanova Law Civil Justice Clinic where he advocated for indigent clients facing custody issues. Prior to attending law school, Chris received his B.A. from Providence College where he studied English and French. Chris is a Supervising Attorney and Team Leader at LaMonaca Law. Chris was named a “Top Lawyer” in Family Law by Main Line Today in 2015 and 2017, as well as a Best Lawyer in the area of Adoption in the Delaware County Daily Times. He is a member of the American Bar Association Family Law Section, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Delaware County Bar Association, where he serves as chair of the Family Law Section’s Custody Committee. When he’s not advocating for his clients, Chris enjoys cooking, all things Seinfeld-related, and being at the shore with his family and their dog, Molly.