What do couples need to divide during a Pennsylvania divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2023 | Divorce

Divorce is largely an emotional process, but it is also a practical one. Couples often choose to divorce because of personal matters but then need to address practical issues to legally end a marriage.

Property division norms require that couples separate their finances while ending a marriage. It is quite common for spouses to disagree about the best way to provide their shared marital assets or even what assets they need to divide. And if they cannot come to an agreement that works for them, the courts will impose equitable distribution standards during a litigated process.

All marital property may be divisible

The law in Pennsylvania requires a fair or equitable division of marital property. What constitutes marital property can be very different depending on what resources people own.

Many people preparing for divorce focus too much on ownership information. They think that the name on a financial account, for example, will determine who retains the funds it contains. However, what matters more during a Pennsylvania divorce is when people acquired the property.

A vehicle titled in the name of one spouse or a retirement account held in only one person’s name could still be part of the marital estate, for example. Some resources, including financial accounts, could be partially marital property and partially separate property. Resources that people obtained prior to marriage would remain their separate assets, while whatever they accrued during the marriage might be subject to division.

Similar rules apply to debts. Debts acquired during the marriage, even in the name of only one spouse, are often subject to division. Debts from before the marriage are usually not part of the marital estate.

Carefully reviewing the status of major assets that may comprise a couple’s marital estate can help people ensure that they receive a fair portion of marital assets during a Pennsylvania divorce.