In Pennsylvania, property is divided equitably when a couple decides to divorce. What exactly that means may be different for each couple so it is helpful for divorcing couples to have a handle on the basics of property division.
Equitable property division refers to dividing property in a manner that is as fair as possible for the divorcing spouses. The property division may not result in a 50-50 division of property but, rather, a division of property that is equitable for the spouses. The family law court will evaluate a variety of factors when equitably dividing property.
Factors that may be considered when working out a property division settlement include:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The income and liabilities of each of the spouses;
- The age and health of each of the spouses;
- The abilities of each of the spouses to provide for themselves;
- The expected retirement benefits and pensions of each of the spouses;
- The tax consequences of any property division settlement agreement;
- Any obligations of the spouses from a prior marriage; or
- Any other factors considered relevant by the family law court.
When property is divided during divorce, only marital property is generally subject to the property division process. This is important to understand and keep in mind because marital property typically only includes the assets and income acquired by the spouses during marriage. It does not include separate property the spouses may have entered the marriage with and several other categories of separate property.
Divorcing couples need to be able to protect their property division priorities and decide what those priorities are. As part of that process, divorcing couples are encouraged to work out property division together but the family law court also serves as a resource to help them achieve a fair and equitable property division outcome.