How courts decide what is fair and equitable in property division

Property division is one of the most crucial aspects of a divorce because it profoundly impacts each spouse’s financial health and future. Accordingly, divorce parties usually inquire into the process to better understand how they stand in terms of property interests and set their expectations.

In Pennsylvania, courts follow the rule on equitable distribution of property in divorce cases, wherein they divide marital properties between spouses fairly and equitably. But how do courts decide what is fair and equitable?

Guidelines to navigate fairness and equitability

Like other states, Pennsylvania has its own guidelines that courts use when determining an equitable division of marital properties. These guidelines include the courts’ consideration of the following factors:

  • The duration of marriage
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • Either spouse’s past marriages, if any
  • Each spouse’s age and health condition, income, assets, debts, vocational skills and employability
  • A spouse’s contribution to the education, training or increased earning capacity of the other party
  • Each spouse’s opportunity to acquire future income and assets
  • Each spouse’s sources of income
  • Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring and preserving marital properties or dissipation of such
  • Each spouse’s financial condition at the time of property division
  • Applicable federal, state and local taxes
  • Any child custody award

Aside from these factors, courts can consider other circumstances they find relevant for determining a fair and equitable division, such as marital misconduct.

Protecting your future through knowledge

Understanding the process empowers you by making you aware of your rights and what you can expect from the process. Accordingly, you can make informed decisions about your assets and plan for your future financial stability.


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