If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, where you live can impact how you will divide your assets. In Pennsylvania, couples dissolve their marriage through an “equitable distribution” process. In other words, the court requires divorcing spouses to equitably, or fairly, divide their marital property — regardless of the divorce method they choose.
What is Marital Property?
Marital property includes all assets that either spouse acquired during the marriage. Marital property includes homes and furniture, vehicles, art, jewelry, and other personal items. It also includes the spouses’ businesses, investments, and retirement accounts. Anything one or both spouses acquired during marriage will be part of the equitable distribution process — even if only one spouse purchased an item. Similarly, divorcing spouses will need to equitably divide their debts, such as loans and credit card bills.
On the other hand, marital property does not include:
- Property one spouse acquired prior to marriage (however, increases in value may be marital property)
- Assets excluded in a prenuptial agreement
- Gifts (except between spouses) and inheritances one spouse received
- Property acquired after final separation, besides property exchanged for marital assets
- Assets one spouse sold or disposed of (in good faith) before final separation
- Certain veterans’ benefits
- Award or settlement payments that accrued before marriage or after final separation
Many divorcing spouses have a wide variety of property and assets. As a result, dividing them fairly may seem like a daunting process. An experienced attorney can assist couples in understanding which assets are considered marital property and which they may wish to keep separate.
Collaborative Divorce and Equitable Distribution
Many divorcing couples have utilized a collaborative approach in order to divorce in a non-adversarial environment. They work together through the equitable distribution process to ensure they achieve the best outcome for everyone.
With the help of our experienced collaborative law attorneys, and perhaps a neutral financial expert, our clients find that dividing their assets does not have to be overwhelming and stressful. Spouses are able to express their needs and goals, negotiate an agreement, and resolve conflict without the tension of litigation.
If you have decided to dissolve your marriage, contact Bort Law to see if a collaborative approach is right for you.