When people decide to divorce, they’re usually concerned about what will happen to their assets. They want to know the fate of their bank accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, investments, and sometimes family-owned businesses.
Most clients have a general idea that divorce will touch on all of these things but they don’t know to what extent. Will everything be divided down the middle? Will they have to file bankruptcy? Are they facing financial ruin?
If you hire a good attorney, divorce does not in any way have to mean financial ruin. With the right legal support, you can protect the bulk of your assets but in order to do this, it’s important to understand how the courts in Pennsylvania divide marital property according to the laws of “equitable distribution.”
Pennsylvania is an Equitable Distribution State
In the United States, there are equitable distribution states and there are community property states. Like the majority of states, Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means a couple’s marital assets are divided according to what’s fair. Unlike community property states, such as California and Nevada, it does not mean 50/50.
In a divorce, only marital property is divided. Separate property remains with the spouse who owns it. Separate property is basically property acquired by a spouse before the marriage, but it also includes gifts and inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage. Marital property refers to assets and property acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage and it is subject to division in a divorce.
If there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it will make property division much easier. Instead of wondering what will happen to the couple’s house in a divorce, the prenup or postnup will dictate the fate of the house. But if you don’t have a prenup and it’s too late for one, you have two options: 1) reach an agreement with your spouse about property division, or 2) let the court decide how to divide your marital property.
Protect Your Assets with a No-Fault Divorce
If the idea of leaving the fate of your assets up to a judge who doesn’t know you and your spouse makes you uneasy, you can opt instead for a no-fault divorce. In this case, you and your spouse would negotiate until you reach an agreement you can both live with. Does that sound better than dragging a judge into it? If so, contact Cairns Law Offices to learn about our $219 no-fault divorces.
Suggested Reading: Can I Date During My Separation in Pennsylvania?