Equitable Distribution: Understanding How Assets are Divided in Divorce in Pennsylvania.


Equitable distribution is the division of assets during a divorce.

How are Assets Divided During a Divorce?

For many, the division of marital property is the most hotly contested issue in divorce litigation.  Deciding who should get what can be quite a challenge, even when spouses are cordial.  Litigants embroiled in the emotional turmoil of divorce may find it difficult to make rational decisions regarding division of assets and liabilities.

Pennsylvania is an Equitable Distribution Commonwealth.  This means that the division of “marital property” does not need to be equal (50/50), but it should be fair and equitable.  “Marital property” means all property acquired by either party during the marriage, and an increase in value to some non-marital property, prior to the date of final separation.  23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3501(a).  Marital misconduct is not be considered in equitable distribution. 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3502.

The division of marital assets can be complicated. While we believe a collaborative and/or amicable divorce is generally less stressful, less expensive, and provides the parties with more control over the outcome, we also recognize that some divorce matters are not suitable for collaborative practice and require traditional divorce litigation. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict the outcome when going to court.

If litigation becomes necessary, the court will consider the following factors in equitably dividing marital property:

(1)  The length of the marriage.

(2)  Any prior marriage of either party.

(3)  The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties.

(4)  The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.

(5)  The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.

(6)  The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.

(7)  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.

(8)  The value of the property set apart to each party.

(9)  The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.

(10)  The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective.

(10.1)  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.

(10.2)  The expense of sale, transfer or liquidation associated with a particular asset, which expense need not be immediate and certain.

(11)  Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.

23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3502.

To discuss all of your divorce options, including collaborative law and divorce litigation, with an experienced family law attorney at JSDC Law Offices, please contact us by calling (717) 883-5671 or email FamilyLaw@JSDC.com.

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