In the United States, there are two methods for dividing marital property and debts in a divorce: equitable distribution and community property. Like the majority of states, Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state.
If you and your spouse can’t agree on how to divide your property, you could end up in court where a judge will have to decide for you. However, if you are interested in our cheap no-fault divorces for only $219, you’ll need to be able to reach an agreement about dividing your marital property. We cannot provide low-cost services if your divorce is litigated.
Separate vs. Marital Property
In all states, including community property states like California and Nevada, property is characterized as “marital property” and “separate property.” In both equitable distribution and community property states, only marital property is subject to division in a divorce because it is considered to be owned jointly by both spouses; separate property is not divided. Separate property escapes the division process.
If you have separate property, it’s important to know that if the separate property increases in value during the course of the marriage, the increased value could be considered part of the marital estate, thereby making it subject to division.
Additionally, if one spouse uses premarital funds, such as money in a bank account that was earned before the marriage as a down payment on the couple’s marital residence, the down payment (which was initially separate funds) could be counted as “marital property.”
So, what counts as separate property in a Pennsylvania divorce?
- Assets acquired before the marriage
- Income earned before the marriage
- An inheritance received during the marriage
- A gift received during the marriage
- Property that was intentionally excluded from the marital estate through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
- Property that was acquired by either spouse after the separation
If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your marital property, a judge will have to decide for you. As we mentioned above, Pennsylvania is not a community property state where both spouses own everything 50/50. Instead, it’s an equitable distribution state, which means that if your case lands in front of a judge because you can’t agree on how to divide your property, the judge will divide your marital estate in a manner that he or she deems fair considering the facts of your case.