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Dividing Assets During A Divorce

One of the most important factors of divorce that will need to be discussed is that of property division. There are many circumstances that can cause the case to be much more complex. The ownership of a private business, high net worth divorces, and various other factors can complicate this process. In Pennsylvania, property division is accomplished through equitable distribution. If the divorcing parties are unable to come to an agreement on their own, the court will divide the assets in a fair, but not necessarily equal, fashion.

Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

The first step in dividing property is identifying all assets that you and your spouse own, together or separately. This includes tangible items like homes, cars and jewelry, and non-tangible items like bank accounts, trusts, and retirement plans. Making a list of assets might make this step easier to manage. As assets are divided, parties will go through a discovery process to classify assets as marital or non-marital.


Marital property includes all assets and income acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. Non-marital property, also known as "separate property," is usually property belonging to one spouse and not acquired during the marriage. Characterizing assets as marital or non-marital is an important factor in determining the value of your property in a divorce.Examples of marital property include:

  • Businesses

  • Cars

  • Homes

  • Investments

Non-marital property, also known as separate property, includes:

  • Property acquired after separation

  • Property acquired before a marriage

  • Inheritances and gifts received during marriage

  • Property excluded by prenuptial or postnuptial agreements


Property Division Includes Marital Debts

In additional to property assets, the parties in a divorce must also divide marital debts. Debts are considered marital if they were incurred after the date of the marriage and before the date of final separation. Even if a marital debt was incurred by only one spouse, both spouses are liable for the payment.

Marital debts include a number of items, such as:

  • Credit card balances

  • Loans

  • Mortgages

  • Tax obligations

Property Division Factors

As assets are divided, parties will first go through a discovery process to classify which property and debt will be classified as marital. Marital property includes all assets that were acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. There is a presumption by the Court that all property held during the marriage is "marital property" unless one spouse can prove otherwise. A monetary value would then be assigned to each marital asset and marital debt, making it easier to fairly divide the property.


The court will take a wide range of factors into consideration, including:

  • Duration of marriage

  • Any prior marriages

  • Age and health of parties

  • Contribution of each party

  • Opportunity for future acquisition

  • Standard of living

  • Economic circumstances

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