Divorce often involves a myriad of topics that must be negotiated and settled in the final settlement. One of the most complicated issues is often that of property division.
Whether you choose to divide marital property amicably during a mediation appointment or you leave the separation of property to the judge presiding over the case, dividing property and assets can involve strong emotions. In order to ease the property division process, you should know how property division works in Pennsylvania.
Equitable division of property
Pennsylvania is one of many states in the nation that follows an equitable division of property model, according to state statutes. This means that all property and assets collected during the marriage are distributed according to what the judge deems fair and equitable. Unlike community property states where marital property is divided equally in half, the judge will consider several factors before making his or her final decision in the case. These factors include the following:
• How long the marriage lasted
• What did each party contribute to the marriage
• What is the occupation and earning potential of each party
• What is the age, mental health and physical health of each party
• Which party has primary custody of the children
The judge may also consider whether one party stayed at home to take care of the kids while the other furthered their career or education.
Marital vs. separate property
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, there could be some property and assets that stay with the original owner in the settlement. Separate property includes property owned prior to becoming married, inheritance money, gifts given to you by a third party or personal injury compensation awarded to you. It is important to avoid mixing separate property with marital items, as it could then become marital and eligible for division in the settlement.