A large part of the divorce process is separating assets between the two parties. It may be helpful to become familiar with the property division process.
Certain states distribute assets differently than others. In the state of Pennsylvania, a few aspects contribute to the division of property.
Equitable distribution state
According to title 23 of the Statutes of Pennsylvania, the state subscribes to equitable distribution in the case of divorce. In other words, the court divides property in accordance with what they deem as fair parts, but this does not necessarily mean equal. A judge examines a number of factors and then determines what would be fair. Some common factors include:
- Contributions to property
- Length of marriage
- Standard of living
- Age and health
- Contribution to divorce
The judge considers these and other factors. In the end, the goal is to come to a solution that aids both parties in being able to sustain a reasonable similar standard of living after divorce as they had during the marriage.
During the process
If a party needs access to certain assets during the divorce proceedings, it is possible to request a partial distribution. This would allow the individual access to certain assets while others are still undergoing division. In the instance that the courts grant such a motion, it is illegal to try to sell the assets the court relinquishes. On the other hand, the court has the option to prevent either party from spending any part of the property during the divorce process.
Marital vs. separate
The courts only distribute marital assets. Therefore, before proceedings begin, the court determines what counts as marital assets and what is separate property. Generally, property the parties obtain during marriage is marital, while property acquired before marriage or after separation is separate. Gifts or inheritance a party receives during marriage may also count as separate property.
As you can see, the property division process is quite extensive. Make sure you understand the process and regulations as it relates to your divorce.