One of the most important issues to resolve in a Pennsylvania divorce is the division of marital property. Essentially, each party must establish what is considered marital property and what is separate property to determine who will get what property in the divorce. Marital property is the key factor in splitting assets in a divorce. Our Lackawanna divorce lawyers examine what this includes.
Pennsylvania Property Division Laws
Pennsylvania operates as an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property is divided fairly between spouses. This does not mean that assets will be split evenly among the couple. Instead, the PA Divorce Code utilizes a number of factors to determine fairness in the property division process.
If possible, it is best for spouses to negotiate their own agreement during this phase of the divorce process through the assistance of their Lackawanna county divorce lawyer. When couples fail to agree on how to divide their marital property, the judge will be left to make the decision for them.
Defining Marital Property
According to Pennsylvania property division laws, property in a divorce is classified as either marital property or nonmarital property.
Marital property includes all of the property that each spouse acquired during the marriage or acquired using funds earned during the marriage. Additionally, marital property includes increases in the value of nonmarital property up to the date of the couple’s separation.
Nonmarital property, also called separate property, includes assets acquired by either spouse prior to marriage, assets acquired through a gift or inheritance at any time (excluding gifts from one spouse to another during the marriage), and assets acquired by either spouse after the date of separation.
Each spouse needs to make a list identifying all of the assets that they own together and which they own separately. It’s essential to correctly categorize each type of property as marital or nonmarital in a divorce. Only assets that are considered marital property are subject to equitable division. This means that spouses, in most cases, get to keep their separate property.
Property may include:
- Personal property
- Real estate
- Retirement accounts
- Family business
- Bank accounts
- Stock options
- Life insurance
After property has been correctly categorized, its value will need to be determined. Generally, the court will use the asset’s current value or the market value of the asset, which essentially is the monetary value that the property would be sold to another party. To determine this, the court might look at recent sales of comparable assets or you can hire an appraiser to determine less common property.
If you have questions or concerns about how your marital assets will be divided in your Pennsylvania divorce, call O’Malley Law Office, LLC at (570) 284-3551 to speak to our Lackawanna County divorce lawyers.