What divorcing couples should know about property division in PA

The Pennsylvania General Assembly divides marital property equitably during a divorce, which involves consideration of several factors in the divorce settlement.

When couples file for divorce, they are forced to deal with a myriad of topics, such as child custody, parenting plans and alimony. One of the most difficult topics to discuss during the termination of a marriage, however, is property and asset division. Whether a couple has been married for three years or 30 years, it can be hard to separate the property that has been accumulated throughout the marriage. Couples who choose to go through the mediation process are often able to negotiate who gets what in the divorce settlement. Divorce cases that are handled in court, however, may be subject to the court-appointed judge's discretion.

Defining equitable distribution

Pennsylvania is included in the majority of states who abide by the equitable distribution of property model when it comes to separating property in a divorce. Rather than split all marital assets and property equally in half between the divorcing parties, the judge determines the division of property after carefully considering several factors. According to Pennsylvania statutes, these factors include:

• How long the couple was married, as well as whether either spouse was previously married.

• Whether a spouse contributed to the career training or education of the other spouse and put their own career or education on hold.

• The extent to which each spouse contributed to the household and in acquiring the marital property and assets.

• The physical health, mental stability and age of each spouse.

If there are children involved in the divorce, the judge may take into consideration which parent has primary custody of the children and whether there is court-ordered child support.

What is marital property?

Marital property involves any items, property and assets that a couple has obtained while they were married. In addition to typical property items, such as homes, vehicles and furniture, there are other less-common items that people should keep in mind when dividing their property. According to Forbes, items including exclusive country club memberships, art collections, patents, cemetery plots and gifts that spouses have given to one another may also be eligible for distribution. Assets, such as 401k plans, stock options, capital loss carryover, bonuses, life insurance and compensation packages may also be divided when terminating a marriage.

Seeking assistance during a divorce

Going through a divorce can be emotional, and it may be difficult to think clearly about everything involved in the process of terminating your marriage. You may want to seek legal counsel from an attorney who has extensive knowledge of the Pennsylvania marriage laws and how they may apply in your case. A divorce lawyer may be able to ensure you receive everything that you are entitled to in a divorce settlement.