When you are divorcing in Pennsylvania, community property is likely one of the top concerns.
What Community Property Means
Community property is generally known as the 50/50 rule. It means that in the event of a divorce, each spouse is entitled to 50 percent of the marital assets acquired during the marriage. It may come as a surprise that this is not the rule in Pennsylvania.
Is Pennsylvania a Community Property State?
Pennsylvania is not a community property state; it is an “equitable distribution” state. This is a significant distinction because if you and your former spouse cannot reach an agreement, the court may make a decision for you and not in an expected way. This is one of many reasons that retaining an experienced family law attorney can be in your best interest.
Equitable Distribution in Pennsylvania
Equitable distribution means that both property and debt are divided in an “equitable” and fair manner by the court. Equitable should not be confused as meaning equal. The Court’s goal is to divide property and debts fairly and equitably to the situation. It looks at several factors when making its determination on property distribution. Of note, the Court does not consider “marital misconduct” when determining equitable distribution.
Equitable Distribution Master
In determining equitable distribution, the Courts may utilize the following factors:
- The length of the marriage.
- Any prior marriage of either party.
- The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each party.
- The contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party.
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
- The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits.
- The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker.
- The value of the property to each party.
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective.
- The Federal, State, and local tax ramifications associated with each asset to be divided, distributed, or assigned, which ramifications need not be immediate and certain.
- The expense of sale, transfer, or liquidation associated with a particular asset, which expense need not be immediate and certain.
- Whether the party serves as the custodian of any dependent minor children.
What Does Pennsylvania Consider Marital Property?
Marital Property under Pennsylvania law is described as “ all property acquired by either party during the marriage.” Under some circumstances, it can also include the increase in value of any non-marital property, i.e., the increase in value of a home solely owned by one spouse before the marriage.
Equitable Distribution of Debts
In the ideal world, there would be no debt. However, in the real world, debt is a reality. Debt acquired during the marriage, and in some cases, personal debt needs to be sorted out during the divorce proceedings. Ideally, the parties would pay off these debts or reach an agreement; however, if that is not attained, the Court makes its equitable distribution decision as part of the divorce process. Given the complex and potentially costly aspect of debt distribution, an experienced family law attorney can be one of the best investments in your case.
Talk With An Experienced Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering filing for divorce in Pennsylvania, the Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC Firm wants to help you. With over four decades of collective experience, the PA family law attorneys at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC can help you get the property arrangement that is right for your circumstances. Call us today at 215-967-9070 or click here.