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What is an equitable distribution state?

In divorce, property division can be one of the most challenging and divisive components. After all, there are many assets that a divorcing couple may own that can hold monetary value, as well as sentimental value. Cars, boats, houses and the like may have great monetary value. Assets that do not necessarily have much monetary value, such as pets or heirlooms, may still prove to be assets that are a source of contention due to their sentimental value.

Because of the strong feelings many couples have regarding the property division component of divorce, it can be helpful to start thinking about the process early, before the divorce proceedings even begin. Having an understanding of the various legal nuances involved can help divorcing spouses prepare a thorough and well thought out legal strategy.

One common nuance involved in property division cases is the difference between community property states and equitable distribution states. In community property states, all marital property is typically defined as community property and is divided fifty-fifty. Pennsylvania is not one of these states. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, meaning that a judge decides what is fair, rather than the property simply being split in half. This could mean that one spouse get two thirds, while the other spouse is awarded one third of the marital property.

The complexities inherent in equitable distribution are many. To truly understand the various nuances, it often takes the expertise of a family law attorney. There are attorneys with expertise in family law who can help guide divorcing spouses through this process and prepare a thorough legal strategy. With all of this in place, it may be possible to come to a satisfactory resolution

Source: FindLaw, "Divorce Property Division FAQ," accessed on Feb. 15, 2016

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