Marital Assets And Pennsylvania’s Equitable Distribution Law

One of the more complex and potentially unsettling areas of a divorce can be the division of marital property and assets. Pennsylvania is an "equitable distribution" state, which means that the court does NOT provide a 50-50 division of assets and debts between spouses. Instead, the court is empowered to determine a division of property that they consider to be equitable or fair. Because of this, it is important to hire a lawyer experienced in property division to handle your divorce.

What A "Marital Asset" Is And How The Court Views It

Pennsylvania law defines a marital asset as any property or income that is acquired during the marriage. Marital assets can include far more than just a house or a car. Other potential assets may include:

  • Works of art
  • The value of a business owned by one of the spouses
  • Retirement accounts or other investments

Important Exceptions To The Separate Property Rule

It is possible to proactively designate some assets as "nonmarital" or separate property. These can include:

  • Property acquired and paid in full before the marriage or after the date of separation
  • Gifts and inheritances acquired during the marriage
  • Property designated by a legally valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

However, if a separate asset increases in value during the course of the marriage, the amount by which it increased in value may be considered a marital asset. Also, if a separate asset is used for a common purpose (such as building a house) during the marriage, it also may be considered a marital asset.

Dealing With Marital Debts

On the other side of the ledger, any debt acquired by either partner between the date of marriage and the date of final separation is considered a joint responsibility. This is true even if one spouse incurred most or all of the expenses. Types of marital debt considered under equitable distribution can include mortgages, credit card debt, loans, child support payments, car payments and tax obligations.

We Can Answer Property Division Questions

Reach out to our law firm today for an assessment of your marital assets by an experienced family law attorney based in Media, Pennsylvania. Call us at 484-443-3087 or contact us through our online form.