As an equitable distribution state, Pennsylvania determines property division based on what is fair, not necessarily what is equal. Under the state’s law, a judge could treat each piece of marital property separately, dividing each one based on differing percentages. You should be aware that the assets that are subject to division will include just about anything that was acquired after the marriage, such as a house, cars, life insurance policies, home furnishings and bank accounts.
There are some items that are considered separate property and therefore will not have to be divided equitably. Those assets include the following:
- Inheritance or items given as a gift
- Anything that either a pre- or post-nuptial agreement specifies
- Property that one spouse had prior to the marriage
If you have legally separated from your spouse, anything you acquire following the separation will likely be excluded from marital property.
There are some caveats to these general rules. For example, as Forbes magazine points out, gifts that are given to each other during marriage do not count as separate property. Additionally, if you were to take assets you had prior to a marriage and then combined them with marital property, they will be subject to division. For example, if you had a savings account before you got married and then put that money into a joint bank account with your spouse, those funds will be counted as a marital asset. Re-titling a house purchased before a marriage to include both spouses would also convert separate property to marital property.
You do have the choice of trying to sort out these matters with your spouse prior to the divorce. If you cannot reach an agreement, a judge will do it for you.
While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.