Legally severing marital ties is typically not without its challenges. When a Pennsylvania resident files a petition to divorce, he or she must resolve many issues regarding property division and, perhaps, child custody, alimony or other matters. It is wise to seek clarification of state laws before heading to court.

This state operates under equitable property rules, as most states do. This means that the judge overseeing a particular case will ultimately determine a fair split of all property acquired during marriage. The split will not necessarily be 50/50. In some circumstances, marital property is considered separately owned in Pennsylvania.

Such cases might include property that was already owned by one spouse before the marriage took place. If, at any time during a marriage, a gift or bequest was given to a particular spouse, such assets may also be held under separate ownership. In addition to these circumstances, if a spouse purchases property during marriage with funds that he or she possessed before the marriage, the property may also be considered a separately owned asset. If, however, a spouse co-mingles funds at any time, for instance, by depositing separately owned money into a jointly owned bank account, such funds automatically become the marital property of both spouses.

In determining how to fairly divide marital property in divorce, a judge may take numerous issues into account, including each spouse’s income, existing liabilities, marriage longevity and future earning potential. Any Pennsylvania resident who has questions regarding property division laws or other aspects of divorce may wish to request a meeting with an experienced family law attorney. When the ultimate goal is to protect one’s financial interests and obtain the maximum value of assets to which one is entitled, it pays to have an experienced attorney by one’s side to help navigate the system.