Couples join their lives during their marriage. This includes entangling property and assets that must be divided if they ever divorce. Seeking a fair and property division under Pennsylvania law is an important part of having financial security after divorce.
In Pennsylvania, any property that was obtained during marriage is marital property. Courts may divide marital property when the couple divorces.
Some property, however, does not fall within this classification. These assets include any property acquired before marriage, gifts that were not exchanged between spouses, an inheritance, property obtained after the couple’s final separation and before their divorce is finalized, the good-faith sale or disposition of property before final separation and veteran’s benefits that are exempt from levy or seizure.
A judge will divide property equitably. This does not mean that the division will be an even split, however.
Judges will consider fairness and other considerations. These include the marriage length, the spouses’ age and health, insurance, sources of income, anticipated inheritances, a spouse’s contributions to the other spouse’s education, each spouse’s education, childcare expenses, assets and debts, spouse’s homemaking contributions and tax consequences.
The judge may also consider some other issues relating to the divorce. These include any marital misconduct occurring before the couple’s separation and whether a spouse can support themselves. The tax consequences may also involve spousal and child support payments.
The judge will make equitable division rulings on retirement or pension plans such as a 401(k) plan and an individual retirement account. Money placed into these accounts before marriage is not a marital asset that can be divided.
Any money deposited into these accounts during marriage, however, may undergo equitable division like other marital property. The court will issue a qualified domestic relations order to a plan administrator.
Couples can also take more control over dividing property in accordance with their own needs and wishes by entering a prenuptial agreement before marriage. This contract contains their agreements on property division. A postnuptial agreement with similar terms may be executed after marriage.
An attorney can assist spouses with reviewing their financial situation and provide them options on dividing property. They can help seek a fair and reasonable divorce decree.