Divorce is an emotional time. It is also a period fraught with practical considerations. The choices you make during the divorce can affect your financial stability for years to come. Rushing into a settlement without properly considering your circumstances, or fighting with your spouse for no reason other than to vent your frustrations are approaches to a divorce that can be harmful.
Those who achieve the best outcomes in Pennsylvania divorces let rational thoughts, rather than emotions, govern the process.
As someone considering divorce, it’s important that you understand the laws that apply if you go to Court. What does a judge consider when splitting property in a Pennsylvania divorce?
Pennsylvania equitably divides your marital property
Your marital assets belong to you and your spouse. You create one family when you get married, which means shared assets and debts. Property acquired during the marriage belongs to both of you, including your income.
Once divorce proceedings begin, you will need to look over your financial circumstances and estimate the value of your assets as well as your current debts, while keeping in mind that you and your spouse will have to divide everything in your possession.
Some couples have a Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreement in place that sets forth how the property will be divided if there is a divorce.
In lieu of such a written Agreement, spouses either need to agree on the division of their property or a judge will need to decide how to equitably divide the property based on Pennsylvania laws.
How does equitable distribution work?
The goal of equitable distribution is to split property and debts between the spouses “fairly”,
not “equally”. A judge will decide what is fair based on the length of the marriage, standard of living, and the income, health, and contributions to the marriage of both spouses, along with several other factors.
Much is left to the discretion of the judge, which makes accurately predicting the outcome of property division proceedings in Pennsylvania somewhat difficult.
It is in your best interests to seek the help of a legal representative who can advocate on your behalf in divorce proceedings.