When imagining divorce, many people assume that the spouses split everything equally, 50/50. However, in Pennsylvania, this is not the case. Pennsylvania recognizes equitable distribution, which gives the courts the power to distribute the assets and property of a marriage as they see fit.
How Does The Court Determine Equitable Distribution?
In Pennsylvania, there are 11 factors considered when the court determines how to divide assets. They are as follows:
- The length of the marriage
- Prior marital and divorce history of both parties
- The amount and source of income of both parties, in addition to both individual's age, health, and workforce skills
- Contributions made from one party to the other that impacted education or earning potential
- The opportunities each party will have to make income in the future
- Any non-labor related sources of income, including retirement funds and other similar benefits
- The contributions of each party to the home
- The value of any property owned by the parties
- The standard of living seen by both parties during the marriage
- The potential aftermath of the distribution. What are the economic circumstances that each party will face after the assets have been divided? This includes any tax ramifications and selling costs.
- The potential cost of custody that each party will face.
Types Of Property Considered
Pennsylvania law separates property into marital property and separate property. Marital property is any assets that were acquired during the marriage, such as homes, cars, and investments. Separate property is any property that was already in an individual's possession before the marriage. This also includes any inheritance received. If a prenuptial agreement was signed, assets are protected as separate property.
The court will also determine how to distribute any liabilities and debt acquired throughout the course of the marriage. Both parties may be responsible for the debt, even if there was one individual who was the primary collector of debt.