If you and your spouse will be getting a divorce, you may wonder about how your family’s property might get divided. Specific property you might think about may include the marital home, a vacation home, art or your car. However, property can also include bank accounts, stocks, jewelry, a business and even retirement accounts.

When you begin to list all the assets your family has acquired throughout your marriage, it may become clear that there could be a lot more at stake than you initially realized. Understanding what property is likely to be divided and how that division could occur can help you as you plan for your upcoming divorce.

Will all property be divided?

There are many common misconceptions people have about what property gets divided in divorce. Some people believe that all property will be divided, but this is rarely the case. Many other people think that the spouse whose name is on a title or who purchased the property will get to keep the property. However, only marital property will be divided in your divorce, and the title holder usually does not matter when it comes time to divide property.

Marital property generally includes all property you or your spouse acquired during your marriage. Separate property, which is not subject to division, typically includes property owned by one spouse before marriage, as well as gifts or inheritances given to only one spouse before or during marriage.

What factors can influence how marital property is divided?

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. This means that a court will divide marital property based off what it determines to be fair. This can result in assets being divided into two equal portions, but it can also result in an uneven split of the property.

When a court decides how assets should be divided, it will consider a variety of factors. Some of these factors include:

  • The duration of your marriage
  • Each spouse’s income
  • Each spouse’s employability
  • The contributions a spouse may have made toward the other’s earning power
  • The standard of living during the marriage

There are many components that contribute to the way property is divided in divorce. Your understanding of these components and of your family’s financial situation can help you and your divorce team focus on reaching a fair settlement that incorporates some of the property that matters most to you.