How property is divided in a divorce

There are certain rules that the courts in Pennsylvania follow when dividing the property between spouses in a divorce.

Those in Pennsylvania who are facing a divorce must deal with the question of how their property is going to be divided. There are certain procedures that courts must follow regarding where the line is drawn. This has to do first and foremost about whether an item of property is titled separately or as marital property. Furthermore, Pennsylvania has some specific rules about how property that was jointly owned by the spouses is to be shared.

What counts as marital property?

Most things that were acquired during the marriage will be considered marital property. These include tax refunds, real estate, bank accounts, and family-owned businesses. Bonds and stocks are also usually considered marital property. Retirement plans, including IRAs and 401Ks, as well as pension plans, may be considered marital property depending on when they were started and if funds were placed into them during the marriage. The rationale behind this is the idea that assets acquired during marriage were obtained in a situation where the spouses were supporting each other.

Which property counts as separately owned?

There are certain types of items that qualify as separate property. If a person received payment in a personal injury case for pain and suffering, that money is not eligible for division. Another type of property that qualifies for separate ownership is anything that was given by a third party as a gift to the spouse. Family inheritances are also owned by people, even if they were received during the marriage. Also, if a spouse owned some property before the marriage, it will typically be considered to belong to that person. However, if the property becomes mixed with marital property, it can lose its separate status.

What are Pennsylvania's rules?

Pennsylvania courts look at a few important factors in determining how marital property will be distributed in a divorce. These factors include, but are not limited to the following:

· Whether a person will have dependent children under his or her custody as a result of the divorce.

· Looking at the time when the division will come into effect, courts will consider how each person is faring economically.

· While married, the couple will have established some kind of standard of living, and courts take this into account.

· Insurance benefits, retirement benefits, medical benefits as well as other sources of income will be considered.

· If one person was able to develop a greater earning ability or was able to pursue training or education as a result of the other spouse's contributions.

· The marriage's length will also be a contributing factor.

Each person should bear in mind that assets are not necessarily given over in whole. Each asset could potentially be divided into percentages as the court sees fit.

Those in the Philadelphia area who are unsure about property division during divorce may find it helpful to consult a local attorney who is experienced in family law.