EXPERIENCED LACKAWANNA COUNTY PROPERTY DIVISION LAWYERS

Property Division Attorneys Guiding You through Your Divorce in Clarks Summit

If you are going through a divorce, you will need to face dividing property and assets. This may include bank accounts, real estate, motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, furniture, personal property, and investment or retirement accounts. Depending on the type of property and the amount of assets, property division can be highly complex. It can directly influence your living situation now and well into the future, particularly when dealing with bank accounts and the family home.

This is where a Lackawanna County divorce lawyer at O'Malley Law Office can provide valuable insight and legal counsel to protect your financial interests. Confusion can easily arise, and spouses previously on friendly terms may find themselves facing heated debates regarding how to divide property. With a knowledgeable family attorney by your side, you will have taken the first step to protecting your right to marital property.

We are proud to serve the families of Lackawanna, Wyoming, Luzerne, Monroe, Wayne, and Susquehanna counties.

Contact O'Malley Law Office for Trusted Divorce Property Division Assistance

Understanding Property & Asset Division During Divorce

Property division, also known as asset division, refers to the process of distributing assets and liabilities between parties during a divorce, separation, or the dissolution of a partnership. This process aims to fairly allocate the property acquired during the relationship or marriage, taking into account the contributions of each party and various legal considerations.

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of property to consider when it comes to a divorce:

  • Separate property, which may include:
    • Property acquired or purchased prior to the marriage;
    • Property acquired by gift or inheritance before or during the marriage; and
    • Profits from a business established prior to the marriage, if the business did not benefit from the other spouse’s involvement or contributions.
  • Marital property, which may include:
    • Property acquired or purchased during the marriage; and
    • Proceeds from a business established during the marriage, or before the marriage if both spouses contributed to the business’s success.

The following are common examples of marital property:

  • Real Property: This includes homes, land, and any other real estate acquired during the marriage.
  • Personal Property: This encompasses items like furniture, vehicles, jewelry, and other tangible possessions acquired during the marriage.
  • Financial Assets: Bank accounts, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, and other financial assets accumulated during the marriage.
  • Business Interests: Ownership stakes in businesses started or acquired during the marriage.
  • Pensions and Benefits: Accumulated retirement benefits, pensions, and other employment-related benefits earned during the marriage.

The following are common examples of separate property:

  • Assets Owned Prior to Marriage: Property acquired by either party before the marriage or partnership.
  • Inheritance and Gifts: Assets received as inheritance or as gifts to one spouse or partner during the relationship.
  • Property Designated as Separate: Some jurisdictions allow couples to designate certain property as separate through legal agreements like prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.

Only marital property is subject to division in a Pennsylvania divorce.

Equitable Distribution: Pennsylvania's Approach to Dividing Marital Property

Pennsylvania follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that marital property is divided based on what is deemed fair and just, taking into account various factors.

The court considers various factors when determining how to distribute marital property, including:

  • Length of the marriage.
  • Each spouse's contribution to the marriage, both financial and non-financial.
  • The age, health, and earning capacity of each spouse.
  • Each spouse's standard of living during the marriage.
  • The presence of prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.
  • Economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of division.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can influence property division if they are valid and enforceable. These agreements may outline how assets and debts are to be divided in the event of a divorce.

Keep in mind, marital debts are also subject to equitable distribution, and the court considers factors such as which spouse incurred the debt and the purpose of the debt.

Step-by-Step Guide to Property Division in Pennsylvania Divorces

Here is a general overview of the property division process during a divorce in Pennsylvania:

  1. Identification of Marital Property: Marital property includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage. You must identify and characterize all relevant assets and debts.
  2. Categorization of Property: Separate property, such as assets owned before the marriage, inheritances, and gifts, is distinguished from marital property. Only marital property is subject to equitable distribution.
  3. Valuation of Assets: The court may require the valuation of assets to determine their fair market value. This can include real estate, businesses, retirement accounts, and other significant assets.
  4. Equitable Distribution Order: Based on the court's evaluation of the factors, a judge issues an equitable distribution order outlining how marital property and debts will be divided between the spouses.
  5. Implementation of the Order: The implementation of the order may involve the transfer of specific assets, the sale of property, or other arrangements to fulfill the equitable distribution.
  6. Enforcement of the Order: Once the court issues the order, it becomes legally binding. Failure to comply with the order may lead to enforcement actions by the court.
  7. Appeals Process: If a party disagrees with the court's decision, they may have the option to appeal, but the grounds for appeal are limited and typically involve legal errors rather than dissatisfaction with the outcome.

You must consult with a family law attorney. Our firm can provide guidance on the specific application of equitable distribution laws, help with asset valuation, and ensure that the client's rights and interests are protected throughout the property division process.

Need Legal Advice on Divorce Property? Call O'Malley Law Office for a Free Consultation

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