What is equitable distribution during a divorce?

If you decide to divorce, you will have to divide up your marital assets. You may be wondering, and even a little concerned, about how this will be done.

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means the court will distribute the property of both parties as it sees fit.

What factors impact property distribution?

As an equitable distribution state, Pennsylvania courts review many factors as they divide property, assets and debts of divorcing couples. The court may lump all the property together or it may review independent assets separately. Here are some of the factors the court uses to determine a fair settlement:

  • The length of your marriage
  • Health, age and source of income of each spouse
  • If you were previously married
  • If there were contributions made for either party's education
  • Income from retirement funds or benefits from other outlets
  • The contribution each provided to the marital home
  • The value of the property that each party owns
  • Standard of living established during marriage
  • Tax ramifications of the division
  • How much time either party will have custody of the children

What are marital property and separate property?

With equitable distribution, there are two main types of property: marital and separate. All income and assets acquired during marriage are considered marital property. This typically includes your home, cars, artwork, furniture, investments and retirement funds.

Separate property includes the income and assets each party had prior to the marriage. It can also include an inheritance, property acquired after separation and protected property from a prenuptial agreement

What happens to debt?

Marital debts will also be considered. Marital debts include debts that were accumulated from the start of the marriage until separation. Usually marital debts include mortgages, loans, automobile payments and credit cards. All debt from a marriage is considered marital property. This means if one party ran up large debt on a credit card, you both will be responsible for that debt. The court will decide on how the debts will be divided up.

The criteria for dividing up assets can be numerous. Working with a knowledgeable attorney can assist in making the strongest case possible so property division can work in your favor.

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