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How does marital asset division work in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Blog, Divorce

When it comes to divorce in Pennsylvania, one of the most significant aspects is the division of marital assets.

Understanding how this process works is important to navigating the separation with clarity.

Marital property

Unlike community property states where there is a 50-50 split of assets, Pennsylvania follows the concept of equitable distribution. The first step in fair asset division is distinguishing between marital and separate property. Marital property typically includes assets acquired during the marriage, while separate property pertains to possessions owned before the union or acquired through inheritance or gift during the marriage.

Valuation of assets

After identifying marital property, the next step is determining its value. Common assets subject to valuation include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. Accurate valuation is crucial for ensuring an equitable distribution.

Factors influencing distribution

Several factors influence the court’s decision in dividing marital assets. These may include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contribution to the marital estate the age and health of both parties, and their respective earning capacities. Courts also consider the standard of living established during the marriage.

Debts and liabilities

In addition to assets, the division process also addresses debts and liabilities. Just as assets get distributed equitably, so too are marital debts. This ensures a fair and balanced separation of financial responsibilities.

Court discretion

Pennsylvania law grants the court the discretion to deviate from an equal distribution if circumstances warrant it. While equity is the primary goal, the court may consider factors that make an even split impractical or unfair.

In 2021, 806 divorces occurred in Westmoreland County. While every divorce has its unique challenges, the division of marital assets often adds another layer of complexity.