Factors to consider when dividing marital property in PA

Pennsylvania uses an equitable distribution of property model where judges consider a variety of factors before dividing marital property.

Separating property may be one of the most difficult tasks to take care of when going through a divorce in Pennsylvania. Not only is it common for people to form attachments to various items throughout the years, but couples may have different needs for certain property or assets. During a mediation or collaborative divorce session, the divorcing couple is responsible for dividing marital property. In a traditional court divorce, however, it is the overseeing judge's duty to determine who gets what in a divorce settlement.

Property division factors

The judge will use his or her personal discretion as well as careful consideration of the following factors when dividing property, according to Pennsylvania state legislature:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The total income and debt of each spouse, as well as each spouse's potential earning capacity
  • Whether or not one spouse contributed to the education, training or advancement of the other spouse's career
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • Which spouse has primary custody of the children
  • The age and health of each spouse

The judge will also take into account how much time, energy and money each spouse contributed to the marriage and raising the family.

Equitable distribution

Pennsylvania follows the equitable distribution of property model, as opposed to the community property model, according to the Huffington Post. Under equitable distribution, the judge can determine which spouse receives the property and assets depending on contribution and need. The community property model, on the other hand, divides all marital property equally in half, regardless of how long the marriage lasted or the specific needs of either party.

Marital vs. separate property

Not all property and assets are eligible for distribution in a divorce case, according to Forbes. Separate property, including assets and property that a spouse owned prior to becoming married or acquired after becoming legally separated, remains with the original owner in most cases. If either spouse received an inheritance during the course of the marriage, it is often considered separate property as well. Any gifts given to either spouse by a third-party generally remain with that spouse. In a situation where separate property becomes integrated with marital property, the separate property may be eligible for property division.

How an attorney can help

Going through a divorce can be extremely overwhelming. An attorney can provide essential support and legal assistance to people who are ending their marriage. Not only will a family lawyer walk you through the divorce process, but he or she will help to ensure you receive everything you deserve in your divorce settlement.


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