Bringing new meaning to a 50-50 divorce
Recently, a German man made headlines for purportedly taking a divorce order to split property quite literally. A You Tube video surfaced that shows the man sawing several items of personal property in half. The items included a car to a computer and even a stuffed teddy bear. When translated, the video appears to indicate that the man’s wife was unfaithful and he was dividing the parties’ property after twelve years of marriage. News outlets also reported that the Husband put his one-half items up for sale on eBay with descriptions about the meaning of the item in his relationship. Husband’s motive in diving the parties’ property appears to be his perception that Wife wanted to “trade in her husband by keep the money and beautiful things.”
While extreme, this is case is illustrative of the difficulties that courts face when diving property between two parties in a divorce. Often it is not that both parties want the same item, but that there is an underlying anger, hurt or other strong emotion that keeps on or both of the parties from being able to separate the task of dividing property from the feelings associated with moving on. In Pennsylvania, the process whereby parties divide assets in a divorce is called equitable distribution (ED). An attorney appointed by the court, called a “master” will attempt to negotiate a settlement between the parties at the first stage of the ED process. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, then they will have a hearing or trial before a judge. Both the Master and the Judge are guided by statutory factors for how to divide the marital estate equitably and fairly between the parties. See 23 Pa C. S. § 3502(a). Marital fault, such as adultery, cannot be considered for purposes of ED.
If you have questions regarding divorce or equitable division of property, click or call (610) 892-3877.