One of the most challenging parts of a divorce is determining how to split up the assets you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have acquired over the course of your relationship. Family law courts vary from state to state when it comes to property division rules. Some states are classified as community property states, while other states, including Pennsylvania, are classified as equitable distribution states.
In a community property state, any marital property, which is property collected by you and your spouse during the marriage, will be divided evenly between you and your spouse. The court will calculate the value of the property and use their calculations to divide the property 50-50. Any separate property, such as property acquired by one spouse before the marriage or an individual inheritance, will be kept by its original owner.
Equitable distribution is slightly more complicated in that it is more subjective. In Pennsylvania and other equitable distribution states, the judge will not just divide the marital property in half, but instead will distribute the property based on what the judge believes is fair. Keep in mind that “fair” does not necessarily mean equal. Judges will consider multiple factors when deciding who gets what, including the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse and the ability to support themselves once they are divorced. Generally, for example, a spouse who spent the last 20 years at home taking care of the kids instead of working outside the home may receive a greater share of the assets.
No matter where you live, property division laws are complex and it can be difficult to figure out which property is worth fighting for. Getting more information about family law can assist you with the process and help you get what you want out of the divorce.