When going through a divorce, you may have many concerns weighing on you. You are likely dealing with feelings of sadness or anger, or both. You may feel betrayed by your soon-to-be ex, or you may feel a sense of relief to be leaving a bad marriage.
Even if you know leaving your marriage is the right decision, you probably are worried what the future may hold. You might be particularly concerned how you and your former partner will divide your assets. Here is some information you may need to know about property division during a divorce.
Defining marital and non-marital assets
Before the division of property occurs, what is marital and what is non-marital property must be determined. Non-marital property is property you or your former spouse owned before you were married. It may also include assets you inherited or received as a gift during the marriage. These assets are not subject to property distribution. However, if any of these assets increased in value during your marriage, the money you earned while married may be considered a marital asset.
Marital property is property that you and your former partner acquired during the marriage. These types of assets are divided during divorce proceedings.
Determining equitable distribution of property
In Pennsylvania, property is divided through equitable distribution. That does not necessarily mean you and your ex’s property will be divided equally. Rather equitable distribution focuses on several factors to determine how property is divided.
The factors that may determine property division include:
- How long you were married
- Whether each partner was married previously
- The income and debts of each spouse
- The age and health of each partner
- The earning ability of each spouse
- The standard of living during the marriage
- How each partner contributed to the assets or debts
The court may also consider other issues when dividing your marital property. However, often the two biggest factors are the length of your marriage, and whether there is income disparity between the two parties. Often, the longer a couple is married, the greater income disparity becomes. This could be due to one spouse focusing more on raising children, differences in careers pursued or how gender may influence pay disparity.
The spouse who makes less money may be favored
Whatever the reason, the court often favors the spouse who is at an economic disadvantage. That may mean if you are earning significantly less than your former partner, you will be awarded a larger portion of your marital assets. However, if you are the high earner, you could also receive a smaller portion of the property distribution. If you are concerned about property division, you may want to reach out to an experienced family law attorney. He or she can help you advocate for your fair share of the marital property.