One of the most contentious issues during the divorce process is usually the division of the marital property.
The process of marital property division in Pennsylvania can be broken down into three steps: separating marital assets from non-marital assets, valuing the assets and dividing the marital assets in accordance with the state’s marital property division laws.
Here is a look at each of these steps:
1. Separating marital assets from non-marital assets
The first step in marital property division is the identification of the actual marital property. Basically, this refers to most (but not always all) assets that were acquired during the marriage. Assets that were acquired before the marriage or after separation, cannot be put up for division. To determine whether an asset is marital or not, the court will take into account the following factors:
- When the asset was acquired
- How the asset was acquired
- How the asset is titled
2. Asset valuation
Once marital assets have been identified, the second step is their valuation. Depending on the nature, assets can be valued in a variety of ways. For instance, a professional appraisal may be enlisted to establish the value of the real estate. The value of financial assets, on the other hand, can be established from the account statements. Dissipation of the marital assets must also be taken into account during the valuation stage.
3. Asset division
This is the final step in marital asset division. This is done in accordance with the state of Pennsylvania’s statute. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. Thus, marital assets and debts are divided based on the principles of equity — which means assets have to be divided fairly (not necessarily equally).
The more you know about how property division works in a divorce, the less mysterious the process will be.