Who Gets What: Understanding How Marital Property is Divided in Pennsylvania Divorce
Divorce is never easy, and the issue of dividing marital property can make the process even more complicated. If you live in Pennsylvania and are contemplating a divorce, it is essential to understand how the state law regulates the division of marital property. In this blog post, we will discuss the key components of marital property division in Pennsylvania.
First and foremost, it is essential to understand what marital property is in Pennsylvania. With a few statutory exceptions, in Pennsylvania, marital property is anything that was acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage, including income, assets, and debts. This means that even if only one spouse earned the income or acquired the asset or debt, it still belongs to both parties in a divorce.
Pennsylvania uses the concept of equitable distribution to divide marital property in a divorce. This means that property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally between the two parties. Fairness is determined by various factors outlined by state law, including the duration of the marriage, each party’s income and earning potential, both parties’ contributions to acquiring marital property, the standard of living maintained during the marriage, the contribution of one spouse as a homemaker, and each party’s needs going forward.
In cases where parties can agree on the division of marital property, the sign what is known as a “Property Settlement Agreement.” In contrast, in cases where parties cannot agree on the division of marital property, the court makes a decision using the Equitable Distribution statute to guide their decision.
One final critical distinction to understand is the difference between marital property and separate property. Separate property includes assets and debts that were acquired by only one spouse before the marriage. In general, separate property is not subject to division in a divorce. However, it is essential to note that separate property can become marital property if it is commingled with marital assets or treated as marital property.
Divorce is never an easy process, but understanding how marital property is divided in Pennsylvania can make it a little less stressful. Pennsylvania uses the concept of equitable distribution to divide marital property fairly but not necessarily equally. The court may consider various factors when determining the appropriate distribution, including each party’s contribution to marital property and their future financial needs. It is also important to understand the distinction between marital and separate property to avoid confusion during the property division process. By seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney who understands Pennsylvania divorce law, you can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the divorce process.