How Property Is Divided In A Divorce
One of the major concerns that those going through divorce face is how their marital property and assets will be divided and how they will be able to move forward as a single person. In every marriage, there are assets that are solely owned by each individual as well as marital assets that are owned by both people. To fully understand your rights in divorce property division matters, talk with me, attorney Michael E. Eisenberg.
Having handled family law cases and divorce issues for more than 30 years, I strive to help my clients keep or obtain the property to which they are entitled. Homes, vacation properties, personal property, monetary accounts, retirement accounts and 401(k)s are just some of the types of things that are divided. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means marital property is divided in a way that the court determines is fair and equal, which may or may not be a 50/50 distribution.
How ‘Fair And Equitable’ Is Determined
The term “fair and equitable” is more loosely defined than dividing things exactly in half. Several factors will be considered before the terms are settled. The court tries to make sure that both people will be able to sufficiently support themselves after the divorce. It also considers their ability to do so. If one is not as highly trained or experienced in the workplace as the other, the court will look at what family contributions and sacrifices one spouse has made to support the success of the other, while forgoing some of his or her own ambition. Each spouse’s age and ability to train for new opportunities may play a role as well, as well as the length of the marriage. Although the court generally tries to be fair, it doesn’t mean that it will get the distribution right in the eyes of either of the spouses.
In dividing property, one of the first things to be determined is what is marital property and what is separate. If one spouse owned the property before the marriage free and clear, the property will likely go back to the original owner. If the property was in one person’s name, but payments were made after the marriage began, part ownership may be granted to the other spouse. The longer the couple was married, the more likely they each are to be given rights to some of the other spouse’s retirement income. Priorities also often lean toward protecting each person’s share of a primary residence than they would for vacation property.