One thing many Berks County couples do not give much thought to unless they separate involves combining their personal assets. Divorce is often challenging enough when establishing spousal and child support, custody and parenting time. When concerns arise regarding the division of assets, re-dividing the property is not always as easy as it was to combine.
Property and assets that benefit a marriage are shareable. Anyone who is thinking about marriage or divorce should consider the following information about separate and marital assets:
Criteria that determine the classification of assets and property in a divorce
In Pennsylvania, the equitable division of marital property ensures that each party receives her or his fair share. Separate assets that each person had before the marriage that was not maintained or purchased with marital funds and assets often remains with the owner. Types of marital property include:
- Earned, won and inherited money that ends up in joint bank accounts
- The purchase and maintenance of properties and items, such as houses, artwork, and cars with the other spouse's or marital funds
- Money that comes from joint bank accounts
- Investment and retirement accounts that receive joint contributions
- Debts that occur during the marriage and were used to acquire and maintain assets, property and benefit the marriage
- Jointly titled assets
There are many factors that can impact the division of marital property. When determining the assets each spouse will receive, the courts will trace how and when they were acquired and make their decisions on the facts and in a fair manner that does not put one spouse at a distinct disadvantage.
While complications involving the classification and division of marital property do occur, there are ways to minimize them. Couples should inventory all assets and classify them as either separate or joint. They should also keep a detailed record of all funds and how they were used before and during marriages. They should also not use non-marital funds to purchase or maintain shared assets. Prenuptial and post-nuptial contracts can also help partners to detail how all property, assets, funds and debts are to be divided if one of them should die, or if divorce occurs.