What You Should Know About Division of Property When Divorcing
When you’re about to file for a divorce, one factor that you’ll need to take into account is how the property is going to be divided. The divorce rate for Pennsylvania in 2016 was at 2.6 divorces for every 1,000 people, which is a number that has remained consistent over the past decade. If you are looking to file for a divorce and would like some advice on what the process is like, call our family lawyers today to get started.
What Constitutes Marital Property?
Marital property in the state of Pennsylvania refers to any asset that was acquired during the marriage by either party. Any item that was acquired between the first day of your marriage and the first day of your separation would be considered marital property. Non-marital property includes:
- Items that were acquired before the marriage by either spouse
- Assets that were acquired by inheritance or gift at any point before or during the marriage, which does not include gifts that were provided to one spouse from the other
- Assets that were acquired following the separation
Even though these are the general guidelines that determine what constitutes marital property, the court typically has the final say.
How Marital Property Is Divided During a Divorce
Married couples who are divorcing have the option to create an agreement on how they would best like to divide their property, which is referred to as a property settlement agreement. This agreement is then provided to the court, after which a judge will place the agreement into their final decision on the divorce. Although the court takes these agreements into consideration, they aren’t always ironclad. Couples who are unable to agree on how to divide their marital property may have their case taken to the court.
One of the largest components that determine how property is divided is the value of the property and assets. The married couple will need to identify how much these assets are worth before going forward with an agreement. The worth of an asset is directly impacted by a variety of factors, the primary of which is the current and fair market value of the item. The fair market value refers to how much money that you could receive at the current time when selling one of these assets, which can include vehicles and homes.
Court Considerations for Marital Property During a Divorce
Unless you have a prenuptial agreement in place prior to the marriage that identifies how marital property will be divided, the court will take a wide range of considerations into account when determining how to divide the property. The term used by the courts is equitable distribution, which means that the division of the property will be fair to both parties. Some of the main factors that are considered by the courts include:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The vocational skills each spouse has and their ability to obtain employment
- The education, sources of income, age, and health of each spouse
- Whether or not each spouse has been previously married
- The number of assets, needs, and debts that each spouse has
These are just a small number of the various considerations that might be taken into account by the courts. Everything from the reduction in value of marital assets to the standard of living that each spouse expects will also be taken into account. One factor that isn’t considered by the courts in Pennsylvania is marital misconduct. However, if the misconduct caused major financial issues with the value of any marital property, it may be taken into consideration. If you have any questions about how the courts divide marital property, our family lawyers are here to answer them.
If you’re seeking a divorce and you would like some assistance with the finer details of your case, call one of our family lawyers today at our practice in Jenkintown at (215) 886-1266.