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Property division in a Pennsylvania divorce

When getting a divorce, one of the questions you may have is what will happen to your property. You may worry about losing valuable assets or not getting as much as you deserve.

While the process is complex and unique to each couple's circumstances, there are general rules that regulate property division in Pennsylvania. Knowing what they are can give you an idea of what to expect.

Marital and separate property

The only assets eligible for division are those that belong to both of you, that you acquired during the marriage or that grew in value during the marriage (such as a business). Things you owned before the marriage or that were gifts just for you (except from your spouse) are separate property. However, if you commingled any assets, they will usually fall under marital property. That is why it is important to keep each type strictly separate with thorough financial records as evidence.

Equitable distribution

For most states, including Pennsylvania, gone are the days of a 50/50 split. Now the aim is to ensure each party has a fair share of the property according to individual needs. The court will look at factors such as how long your marriage lasted, how much earning capacity you each have, what your standard of living was during the union and who will be the primary caretaker of the children.

Agreements

If you signed a prenuptial agreement, the court will abide by its terms for the distribution of assets. The same goes if you created a postnuptial agreement. However, the court will first determine that the agreement is valid. For example, if your spouse did not disclose all financial information, the agreement would be invalid.

Even if you do not have a prenup or postnup, you do not have to leave the decision of property division up to a judge. You and your spouse can come up with your own agreement through negotiation or mediation.

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