When you file for divorce, one of the most important things you may have on your mind is how the marital assets will be divided up. With everything from your home, vehicles, furniture and so on, it can be a monumental task going through everything. You will find the process will go much more smoothly if you are on good terms with your soon to be ex-spouse. If that is the case, it will make the dividing up of financial assets and debts much easier.
If both spouses are unable to come to a distribution agreement, the court may seek to make an equitable distribution of the property and debts. In Pennsylvania, this means the court will divide property, assets and debts of a divorcing couple based on different factors it will consider. When doing this, the court may review all the property together all-in-one or it may look at each asset on its own. When the court is reviewing your marital property, it will take these factors into consideration:
- The amount of time you were both married
- Your source of income, ages of each spouse and if there are any health problems
- If either partner had a previous marriage
- Earnings outlook for each spouse
- If one spouse had made financial contributions for the education of the other spouse
- Income from other sources such as retirement accounts
- How much each spouse provided towards the marital home
- The overall value of the property that each spouse owns
- What the standard of living was for each spouse during the marriage
- The outcome balance once the distribution is decided, including tax obligations or the sale of the property
- The time each spouse will spend with children after the marriage
There are two main types of equitable distribution that is considered by the court. One is marital property and the other is separate property. Everything that was accumulated during the marriage is considered marital property. This would include the home, cars, furniture and personal items. Separate property would include all the items each spouse had before the marriage. This can include such things as an inheritance, property protected by a pre-nuptial agreement and property that was acquired after a separation.
One final aspect of equitable distribution that will be considered by the court is the marital debts. Only the debts that were accumulated during the marriage up until the separation is looked at. These debts typically come from the mortgage on the marital home, car loans, credit card debt and other types of loans. No matter what debt is owned by either spouse, it is considered marital property. This means that if one person in the marriage ran up an exorbitant amount of credit card debt, it would still be considered marital debt for which you both are responsible.
Equitable distribution can have several factors and different criteria involved for dividing up assets in a divorce that you should be aware of. If you have questions about the distribution of your assets during marriage, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.