While there are many difficult topics to negotiate during divorce proceedings, separating marital property may be one of the most challenging. It is easy to become attached to property that you have accumulated during the marriage.
It is critical to understand the difference between marital and community property, as well as how property is divided to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to in the final settlement.
What is equitable division of property?
In Pennsylvania, and in many other states in the nation, the court follows an equitable division of property law. Rather than divide marital property and assets equally in half between you and your spouse, the judge presiding over the case considers what is fair by looking at several factors before making the final decision, according to Pennsylvania state statutes. These factors may vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the situation, but most often include the following:
• Duration of the marriage
• Earning potential of each party, as well as their current occupation
• Age of each party
• Mental and physical health
• Tax consequences of property division
• Contribution of each party to the accumulation of the property
The judge may look at whether you stayed at home to care for the children while your spouse furthered their education and/or career.
What is marital and separate property?
Marital property involves everything amassed during the marriage. Not only does this include the family home, vehicle, furniture and bank account contents, it also involves 401k plans, stocks, retirement plans, term life insurance policies, art and antique collections, lottery ticket winnings, income tax refunds and intellectual property.
Separate property, on the other hand, stays in the hands of the original owner. This involves inheritance money, personal injury compensation and property that you owned prior to becoming married.