Marital property is all of the property a couple acquires in the time that they are married to one another. In the event of divorce, this property will be split according to the laws of the state they are divorcing in. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means that property will be split in the way that the court feels to be the most fair.
What is looked at when determining marital property?
While the term equitable may lead some to believe that property will be evenly divided, it actually means other factors will be used to determine fairness.
When the court determines how to split marital property they will look at:
- How long the marriage lasted
- Each person's age, health, and income
- Child custody agreements
- Contribution of one spouse to the earnings of the other
- Future financial opportunity
- Value of these assets
There are other factors that may also be considered by the court, including the standard of living that was established in the marriage, whether property will increase or decrease in value, and how taxes will affect the value of the divided property.
What is not considered in a Pennsylvania divorce is which party may be at fault for the divorce. If one spouse had an affair, for example, their affair could not be used as a reason for the other spouse to obtain a larger cut of the marital property.
How the Court Splits Property
The first thing the court will do is to identify which assets are marital and which are separate. The separate property will remain in the ownership of the person it belongs to. The next step is to determine the financial value of the marital property and divide this according to the factors highlighted above.
If a couple feels as though the court will not split the marital property how they would like it, or would like to have more control over their assets following the divorce, they can work to divide the property themselves. Working with an attorney, the couple can decide what they would like and come to an agreement without involving the court.