Are Assets Always Split 50/50 in a Divorce?
An unpleasant experience like getting through a divorce can, at times, even feel infernal. The division of marital property is what adds fuel to this fire — and rarely leaves both parties happy. Because of that, couples getting a divorce in Pennsylvania might wonder which property division rules apply to this state. Are assets always split 50/50 in a divorce in PA?
If not, how does the court decide which partner gets what? As it goes, there are several deciding factors relevant for each case. Learn how equitable property distribution works to find out what to expect in a divorce.
What Is the Difference Between Marital and Non-Marital Property?
To understand which assets go into the property distribution machine in a divorce, one needs to learn what falls under marital vs. non-marital property. The former refers to all those assets that both partners have acquired during their marriage. This term also applies to anything the couple acquires with the money earned while married.
Besides, marital property can also include the increase in value of non-marital assets before the couple separates. For example, one of the spouses can own a retirement account that has existed even before their marriage. Naturally, this would fall under their non-marital property.
However, the value of this account might increase during the marriage. In that case, the difference automatically becomes this couple's marital property. And much like retirement accounts, couples can split the following items in a divorce:
● personal property
● real estate
● family business
Is PA an Equitable Distribution State?
Some states take the above division very seriously. They consider any marital property as community property that belongs to both partners equally. In other words, both spouses have an equal right to the assets obtained during their marriage — regardless of who has acquired them.
However, different rules apply to asset divisions during a divorce in Pennsylvania. As it goes, this state follows the equitable distribution process. In simple terms, it splits a couple's property according to the court's judgment. Thus, the judge has the right to divide the assets based on the peculiarities of the particular case.
Because of that, Pennsylvania counts as an equitable distribution state. Most of the time, this is a good thing as it ensures a fair division of property.
Do Couples Split Their Property Equally After a Divorce in Pennsylvania?
Since Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, the division of marital property is rarely equal. Most of the time, the court rules in favor of one of the spouses. In other words, the judge decides who gets more (valuable) assets based on the particular case.
A range of factors can thus help a judge determine the best way to split a couple's property. Consider the ones below to see what to expect depending on the situation.
What Do PA Courts Look for in Marital Property Division Cases?
When dividing property, a judge will first consider whether there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If so, the court will follow the terms of this document.
Otherwise, a judge will apply the equitable distribution of the couple's marital property. They will consider the following factors before making their decision:
● How long did the couple's marriage last?
● Was either of the spouses previously married?
● What is the current financial situation of each of the spouses?
● How old is the couple?
● What is their current employability situation?
● What is the couple's health situation?
● How did each of them contribute to the acquisition of their marital property? What did
they do to preserve these assets? Did they do anything to diminish their value?
● What is the value of the non-marital assets each of the spouses owns?
● What was the couple's standard of living during their marriage?
● Who will get custody of their minor children?
In Pennsylvania, marital property does not get equally split between the ex-spouses. Instead, this state follows equitable distribution practices after a divorce. Thus, the court can rule in favor of either of the spouses based on the particular situation.
Most of the time, a judge will consider the couple's non-marital property, too. Apart from their current income, the court will also pay attention to other deciding factors. In the end, some of the assets will go to whoever seems to need them more or the one who has done more to acquire them.
Hiring a lawyer from a reliable divorce law firm in York PA will definitely give you an advantage in divorce cases. Their legal services will surely help, especially if you want to know how to protect yourself financially in a divorce.