In Pennsylvania, when a couple is divorcing, the legal term for dividing marital assets and marital debts is “equitable distribution”. The primary task at hand in most divorce matters is ascertaining the marital estate and reaching a division and distribution plan. There are a variety of tools available in a divorce matter that will help you gather information on the marital estate, with or without the cooperation of the other party – this investigative, information-gathering process is called “discovery.”
The marital estate typically includes all assets and debts acquired from the date of marriage through the date of separation, with some exceptions including gifts and inheritances. Ascertaining whether a particular asset or debt is marital can be a complicated analysis particularly if the property at issue involves both marital and non-marital components or if the property is difficult to value. Utilizing the experience of an attorney who is seasoned in the discovery process and in valuing disputed property will make this process smoother and less emotional for you.
Pennsylvania courts divide marital property and debts based on the principles of equity, which means that the court’s goal is to divide marital assets and marital debts as it deems fair. Equitable distribution does not mean that property and debts must be equally divided.
Pennsylvania courts consider a number of factors when determining equitable distribution, including:
(1) The length of the marriage.
(2) Any prior marriage of either party.
(3) The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties.
(4) The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
(5) The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
(6) The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
(7) The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker.
(8) The value of the property set apart to each party.
(9) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
(10) The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective.
(10.1) The Federal, State and local tax ramifications associated with each asset to be divided, distributed or assigned, which ramifications need not be immediate and certain.
(10.2) The expense of sale, transfer or liquidation associated with a particular asset, which expense need not be immediate and certain.
(11) Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.
In Pennsylvania, courts do not consider marital misconduct, such as adultery, when dividing property.
An experienced divorce can help you identify your goals for equitable distribution, set realistic expectations, and carefully monitor each stage of the proceeds from the inception of your separation from your spouse through the issuance of your final Decree in Divorce.
Our Family Law attorneys also specialize in
Our Family Law attorneys that specialize in Equitable Distribution include: