Equitable Distribution of Assets
During the divorce process, all marital property must be identified, valued, and divided. Bank accounts, real estate, pensions, personal property, stock, and many other items may all constitute marital property. Though the process of dividing up marital property can lead to conflict between the parties, our attorneys frequently work out the division of marital property without getting the court involved. In the event that litigation does become necessary, our team understands the many factors the judge will consider and will work hard to ensure that you receive the best possible result.
What Constitutes Marital Property?
In Pennsylvania, there is a presumption that all property acquired during a marriage, except for gifts and inheritances, is marital property. Whether or not property is considered marital goes beyond the inquiry of determining who purchased the item or who holds title to the item. Further, anytime property obtained by one party before the marriage increases in value, the amount of that increase may be considered marital property. There are, of course, some exceptions to the general definition of marital property, and our experienced attorneys can help you determine what property is your separate property and what property will be at issue in your divorce.
How Is Marital Property Divided?
If the parties cannot agree on how to divide their marital property, the matter will be brought before the court. Following a hearing, during which both sides have the opportunity to present their positions, the court will consider a number of factors to determine a fair and reasonable division of the assets. This is known as “equitable distribution.” Some of the factors that the court looks at when determining what is equitable are:
- The length of the marriage
- Any prior marriage of either party
- The age, health, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties
- Whether one party contributed to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party
- The sources of income of both parties
- The value of the property set apart to each party
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- Tax ramifications at the time the division of property is to become effective
- Child custody
It is important to note that marital misconduct is not relevant to the equitable distribution determination.