Understanding the division of assets is important for individuals seeking a dissolution of their marriage.
Pennsylvania law follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing assets.
Equitable distribution principle
The equitable distribution principle in Pennsylvania does not necessarily mean an equal 50/50 split of assets between spouses. Instead, it emphasizes fairness. The court considers various factors to determine a fair division, taking into account each spouse’s contributions during the marriage.
Marital property vs. separate property
Marital property generally includes assets acquired during the marriage. This encompasses income, real estate, pensions and other assets obtained while married. Separate property usually consists of assets acquired before the marriage, inheritances or gifts received by one spouse individually.
Factors considered in division
Several factors influence the equitable distribution of assets. These include the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s age and health, their respective incomes and employability, and the standard of living established during the marriage.
Process of asset division
During divorce proceedings, both parties disclose their assets and debts. This includes providing a comprehensive list of all properties, financial accounts and liabilities. Courts encourage spouses to reach an agreement on asset division. If they cannot agree, the court will intervene and make the final decision based on the principles of equitable distribution.
Debts accumulated during the marriage are also subject to equitable distribution. Such debts might include mortgages, car loans, credit card debts or other financial obligations. The court considers the same factors as with asset division when distributing debts between spouses.
In 2021, Pennsylvania had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population. For most couples, asset division ranks as a top concern. Understanding the legal landscape and the principles governing asset division is key to securing a fair settlement.