If you are headed for divorce and you and your spouse have accumulated assets during your marriage, you may be wondering about your rights to marital property, and it is only natural to want to know what you are entitled to.
Did your spouse work while you were at home raising the children? Did you both work throughout the marriage? Or, have you been supporting your spouse all these years?
If you're like most couples, you and your husband or wife fit into one of these above scenarios. That being said, we will discuss your rights to marital property no matter which of the above situations applies to you.
Equitable Division of Marital Property in PA
Pennsylvania follows what is called the "equitable division" rule. Unlike community property states, such as California and Nevada, a couple's marital assets are not necessarily divided 50/50.
Instead, the court looks at the totality of the couple's circumstances and decides on a distribution formula that is fair and "equitable" considering the facts of the marriage, such as:
- How long the couple has been married
- Any prior marriages for either spouse
- The age and health of each spouse
- Each spouse's income and financial resources
- A spouse's contributions as a homemaker
- The spouses' contribution to marital assets
- Either spouse's dissipation (waste) of marital assets
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
- Whether a spouse will be taking care of the children (if any)
While a court will take into consideration any dissipation of marital assets, for example, if one of the spouses maxed out all of the credit cards or gambled away the savings, the court does not consider "marital misconduct," such as adultery during the division process like some states do.
Essentially, a couple can reach a marital settlement agreement with the help of their divorce attorneys, and this is usually in the couple's best interests. However, if a couple cannot come to terms on how to divide their assets, the court will step in and decide for them.
Having a judge spend a few hours on deciding how to divide a couple's assets accumulated over years of marriage is not ideal, which is why we urge couples to reach a fair agreement while pursuing a no-fault divorce.