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3 things divorcing spouses should know about property division

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | Uncategorized

Every divorce is different, as all married couples have different personal and financial circumstances. Pennsylvania state law provides broad guidelines for the courts and for spouses preparing to end a marriage.

The vastly different outcomes from one divorce case to the next can leave people uncertain about how to proceed when they want to file for divorce or respond to a spouse’s divorce filing. Property division matters often dominate the conversations people have about upcoming divorces, as they do not want the end of a marriage to wreak havoc on their financial future.

What do people generally need to know about the property division process in a Pennsylvania divorce?

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state

The law about divorce is different in every state, with some states having community property rules and many others using equitable distribution rules. The statutes in Pennsylvania require the equitable or fair distribution of marital property and debts when people divorce. Equitable means Fair, which means that a judge has to learn about the circumstances of the marriage and look at a thorough inventory of financial resources and obligations when attempting to determine the right solutions for divorcing couples.

Some property may be separate property

Not every asset that someone owns or every debt owed by a married person is part of their marital state. Pennsylvania does recognize that spouses can have separate property in some cases. The resources someone owned before they got married could remain their separate property even after they divorce.

Inherited items and gifts are also often separate property for the purpose of asset division in a litigated divorce. Spouses often have to go over their financial records carefully to establish what resources are separate and what might be marital property that both have an interest in. In some cases, one spouse can exclude the debts of the other from the marital estate if they predate the marriage or are the result of financial misrepresentation.

Spouses don’t always need to litigate

One of the most persistent myths about divorce is the idea that it must be an adversarial process. Spouses assume that they must fight with one another over their property and debts. Contrary to what people often think, spouses can settle their own property division matters without going to court. Prenuptial agreements, collaborative divorce proceedings and mediation could all help divorcing spouses reach a mutual decision about how to divide their marital property and their debts. Litigation is only necessary in scenarios where spouses cannot settle matters on their own.

Those who know the basics about what to expect during a Pennsylvania divorce may feel more comfortable taking control of the process. Having the right support and information during divorce proceedings can help someone establish the foundation for the best future possible.