Equitable Distribution in Pennsylvania, ExplainedMarch 7, 2022
Pennsylvania law provides a process where each spouse in a divorcing couple can be awarded rights to, and ownership of, certain marital assets, but the process is not always easy. Equitable Distribution may be decided by agreement between the parties in a divorce action or the court may decide if the parties cannot agree. If the court must decide, the parties must complete the required forms and documents regarding marital assets and debts. Then, multiple court proceedings occur, which can take months to years to complete.
Keep in mind that ”equitable” does not mean “equal;” it means “fair” The Court uses predetermined factors to achieve fair results, which may or may not be to the satisfaction of both parties involved.
Equitable Distribution in Pennsylvania: What Does it Really Mean?
Pennsylvania’s equitable distribution process is guided by the state’s Equitable Distribution Law. The law defines an equitable distribution as a division of assets that is “fair and equitable.”
Specifically, the law states that assets will be divided without regard to marital misconduct (like adultery). It also allows a court to consider the length of the marriage and divides assets using the following factors:
- The duration of the marriage.
- Whether either party was previously married.
- The age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each of the parties.
- The contribution by one party to the education or other increased earning power of the other party.
- The opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income.
- The sources of income of both parties.
- The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition and preservation of marital assets, including the contribution of either of the parties as homemaker.
- The value of the property set apart to each party.
- The standard of living that was established during the marriage.
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division is to become effective, including tax ramifications of the distribution.
- Whether either party will be serving as custodian for the parties’ minor children.
In other words, to truly understand the equitable distribution, a divorcing family will need to understand the legal definition of “equitable.”
How Property is Divided Equitably in Pennsylvania
To understand how property is divided during the equitable distribution process, it is important to understand what is considered marital property. Only marital property is subject to equitable distribution and division.
Marital property refers to assets acquired during a marriage by either spouse, including property, income,, or assets received in exchange for property acquired during the marriage. In some circumstances, gifts and inheritance received during the marriage may be marital, but not always.
Separate property, not subject to equitable distribution, consists of funds or property acquired by a spouse before marriage or after the separation of the spouses, as long as marital funds were not used to acquire the property. As previously mentioned, gifts and inheritance received by one spouse during the marriage may also be separate property.
The Bottom Line: Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney Helping Clients Navigate the Equitable Distribution Process
If you are in the process of divorce, it’s critical to understand the legal process that must take place to divide marital assets. As always, it is important to consult with a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
Are You Looking for Reliable Divorce Attorneys in Pennsylvania?
Dealing with family law cases can be exhausting and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Working with a family law firm in Pennsylvania should help you navigate and simplify your legal woes, so you can rest easy knowing your assets are protected properly.
Unlike the traditional legal representation, Daley Zucker, LLC is fully committed to delivering the best representation and resolution for our clients in need of legal assistance. With years of experience and with a results-driven tenacity, our attorneys will strive to turn the tides in your favor if you contact us today at (717) 971-8719.