One of the most stressful aspects of the end of a marriage is property division. Pennsylvania is an equitable division state. This means a judge looks at your marital property and decides who receives what in property division.
According to the Pennsylvania legislature, marital property is any property either spouse took ownership of during the marriage. It also includes the appreciation of the value of any property experienced during the marriage, meaning you might owe your spouse a share of the profits you earned from an investment. However, there are several exceptions to this rule.
Exclusion by agreement
If you and your spouse excluded property from marital property by agreement, Pennsylvania does not count this as marital property. However, you must prove this agreement occurred to the judge. Without a written agreement, this is difficult.
Property gained after separation
The property you acquire after your separation but before the legal divorce does not count towards the marital property. The exception is if you exchanged marital property for the new property. Be careful when you purchase anything during the divorce process because the funds you use might fall under marital property.
Settlements or awards won
Settlements or awards you earn after the final separation or before the marriage do not count as marital property. It does not matter if you received the payment during the marriage.
Pennsylvania property division has many pitfalls and exceptions you need to be aware of. Work with an experienced divorce attorney to create a list of all your assets. It is best to prepare, so you do not receive a shock when the judge gives your spouse more than you expected.