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How property division works in a Pennsylvania divorce

Pennsylvania couples in the process of divorce have a few options for dividing their property. They may choose to come to an agreement. If they have a valid prenup, division will likely proceed according to its terms.

If the couple cannot arrive at a consensus on how to divide assets, the court will step in to perform division in accordance with Pennsylvania law.

What is equitable distribution?

Similar to many other states, Pennsylvania follows the equitable distribution model. This means the court prioritizes fairness over equal shares. While in some cases equitable division may result in a 50/50 split, in many others it will not.

What are marital assets?

Generally, marital assets subject to division are those couples acquire during the marriage. Assets may include wages, accrued pension benefits, real estate, professional licenses and any other property. A spouse may also possess separate property from before or after the marriage, receive gifts specifically for that spouse and gain inheritances.

What influences division?

Courts consider a variety of factors when deciding on a fair division for each case. Some important factors include the length of the marriage, the spouses' contributions (financial and otherwise), childcare responsibilities, earning capacity, potential for increasing earning capacity, health and normal standard of living.

What are complicating factors?

Some types of assets can present additional complications. For example, divding the marital home can mean selling it and dividing the proceeds. Alternatively, one spouse may buy the other one out or receive a different asset equal to his or her share of the house. However, these last two may be difficult if the other spouse does not have enough funds or the marital estate does not have another asset of appropriate value.

Choosing how to handle the marital home can become more challenging with minor children in the picture, whose psychological well-being may benefit from continuing to live in the house. Nesting is a solution some couples consider when dealing with this issue. Your lawyer can help you decide on the right solutions for all property division problems specific to your circumstances.

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