The Principle of Equitable Distribution in a Pennsylvania Divorce
Common law property states are those that recognize equitable distribution, and Pennsylvania is one of them. With equitable distribution, factors like separate property are considered, and it may also make a difference which of the partners filed for divorce.
There’s a Difference Between What’s Equal and What’s Equitable
Equitable distribution doesn’t mean equal division. Unlike community property states, you’re not going to split everything straight down the middle. Rather, equitable distribution takes the circumstances of both parties into consideration in an attempt to give each person what they need.
There are only nine states in the U.S. that use community property rules, which is the alternative to equitable distribution. In these states, the property is divided as equally as possible without taking into account the amount that each party contributed throughout the marriage.
What Happens in the Process of Equitable Distribution?
With equitable distribution, the process of dividing up your marital property is handled much more delicately by the courts than with community property division. The principles of equitable distribution give weight to what each spouse needs and what kind of means they’re working with after the divorce.
One common situation that comes up with equitable distribution is when one party has ended a career so that they could remain at home and look after the kids. After their marriage has ended, there’s a good chance that they’ll have a harder time supporting themselves financially, so it’s possible that a court may find that this spouse should get a bigger portion of their marital property.
The Process May Be Collaborative or Done Through Your Attorneys
Couples who are getting divorced have the chance to work out how to divide their marital property prior to court intervention in an equitable distribution state like Pennsylvania. This is comparable to how things work in community property states. Keep in mind, though, that whatever the couple decides is still subject to approval from the court.
Sometimes, this process might be done through the spouses’ divorce lawyers. But if both parties are willing and able to work together, it may be done in a collaborative environment. In the event that the couple isn’t able to come to some form of agreement in time, a resolution may be made at the court’s discretion. However, this still must be done within the state marital property law parameters, and a divorce lawyer can provide you with more information about what that might entail.
What Are Some Considerations for Equitable Distribution?
Some of the factors that are considered in equitable distribution include how long the marriage lasted, the spouse who has primary custody of any children who are still minors, and what the financial needs of both spouses are. Courts will also factor in the liabilities that each party has, both presently and going forward. One common example of this is when one person needs to pay for schooling to get their degree in order to make enough money to live on.
Any pensions earned by either party are also taken into consideration with equitable distribution as well as how much was contributed by each of the spouses to the total of their accumulated marital property. Courts will look at things like the individuals’ health, age and special needs along with any child or spousal support obligations that either one of them has to keep up with from previous relationships.
The marital misconduct of either spouse can also come up in equitable distribution. This may encompass any behavior from extramarital affairs, domestic violence or debts that were racked up from gambling.
Of these myriad factors that come into play with equitable distribution, one element that gets excluded from the considerations is premarital property because any personal property that was acquired prior to the marriage doesn’t count towards a marital estate.
If you’re dealing with a divorce in the Jenkintown area, call the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner today at 215-886-1266, and we’ll answer any questions that you might have about marital property and equitable distribution.