Sorting out property issues is an essential task in the divorce process, particularly for couples who have significant assets between themselves. For couples who have not deal with property matters in any agreement, prenuptial or otherwise, it is up to the court to divide their property according to rules laid down in state law.
Different states use different approaches to property division, but there are two general approaches used: community property and equitable distribution. Community property generally involves an equal division of marital assets. Equitable division, on the other hand, involves a division which is equitable or fair given the circumstances of the case.
The general rule of property division in Pennsylvania in equitable division, and state law identifies a variety of factors judges are supposed to take into consideration when determining how to divide property equitably. These include:
- The amount of time the couple has been married;
- Whether there are previous marriages;
- The financial circumstances of each party, including age, health, station in life, amount and sources of income, employability and vocational skills, and liabilities;
- The custody arrangement for any children;
- The value of separate property each party has;
- The tax implications of any proposed property division plan.
Judges have significant discretion in making property division decisions. Judges may give some factors more weight than others and may apply a different percentage to each marital asset or group of assets.
In our next post, we’ll look at how an experienced attorney can provide strong advocacy in custody matters.