Most couples go into marriage thinking of it as an expression of love. Marriage is also an enormous legal and financial commitment. This is typically never as self-evident as during divorce, when Pennsylvania couples must untangle assets and finances that have been combined over the years.

Even the most seemingly committed couples are not immune to divorce. Annually, roughly 2 million couples say “I do,” for the first time, and about half of those go on to end in divorce. Second marriages end at a rate of 67 percent, and third marriages end in divorce 74 percent of the time. For many separating couples, the emotional aspect of divorce is often what they deal with first, but it may not be the most important.

Barring extenuating circumstances, marital assets typically encompass most of the assets that a couple have and use on a daily basis. Homes, vehicles and bank accounts are some of the most common marital assets, but they can also cover more complex items, such as investments. However, the vast majority of divorcing couples in Pennsylvania will not have to go before a judge in order to divide these assets up. Unlike the typical portrayal of divorce on TV and in movies, most people can address property division without ever stepping foot in court.

Divorce can be a time-consuming process that, when unnecessarily drawn out, can also be a financial drain. Collecting necessary information regarding both marital and personal property beforehand can help negotiations or mediation go much smoother and quicker. However, for those who are still unable to create a divorce agreement that both parties find acceptable, it can sometimes be appropriate to go before a family law judge, who will render a final say on the matter.

Source: CBS Boston, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: Understanding Divorce”, Dee Lee, Aug. 15, 2016