You and your spouse decide that separation would prove best for you and your children. Because your marriage lasted many years, you did not make the decision to divorce lightly. You know that the court subjects your assets to division, but you worry about how the court will determine whom receives large pieces of property.
Pennsylvania divorce proceedings operate under the process of equitable distribution. Though you and your spouse may have obtained significant assets and property ownership throughout your marriage, nearly all shared property will face analysis and separation by a Pennsylvania court judge. Depending on various facts regarding your marriage, the court will determine a split that proves beneficial for each spouse. In any divorce proceeding, you want to hire an experienced family law attorney. Especially when dealing with expensive assets, it may prove beneficial to utilize an attorney's aid to ensure you have all required documents for a legal divorce.
The factors considered in equitable distribution
Equitable distribution involves splitting your and your spouse's assets fairly, rather than equally. The court understands that marriages involve many moving parts, and to ensure a fair split, the court will need to investigate to decide which spouse receives which assets.
Pennsylvania law does not consider marriage misconduct, such as adultery, when splitting assets. The court consistently determines that a generally equal split will prove most beneficial for all parties.
The law states that a judge will investigate each asset and assign a percentage owed to party. When determining these percentages, the court will use:
- The length of time you were married
- Whether you or your spouse were married before
- Your and your spouse's age, health, income, education, estate, debt or other needs
- Your and your spouse's individual contribution with income and child-raising
- Whether you or your spouse have the ability to acquire more assets
- Your sources of income
- Your marriage contribution
- The value of your exiting property
- Your current standard of living
- The family's economic health
- Taxes incurred
After looking at individual assets, the court may determine that you or your spouse will require spousal support to aid in obtaining education or searching for a job after the divorce.
In addition, the court will decide whom receives the family home.
Understand that in Pennsylvania, equitable distribution views both spouses as equals in the marriage. No matter if you never worked outside of the home, whether your spouse took on all childcare duty or you hold no education beyond a high school degree, the court will ensure, to the best of its ability, that your financial security does not change after divorce separation. Doing so, a judge can ensure that no party is detrimentally affected by the divorce process.