Equitable Distribution

Posted on January 8, 2015 · Posted in Family Law

In Pennsylvania, equitable distribution is the division of assets (and allocation of debts) acquired during the parties’ marriage. It is but one of the financial issues that may be raised in connection with a divorce – alimony/support, child support, counsel fees and costs being the others.

There is no presumption under Pennsylvania law that provides that assets are to be divided on a 50-50 basis. Rather, there is a list of 13 factors the Court is required to consider in distributing marital assets.

While many cases result in a 50-50 distribution, a disparity in incomes, health issues preventing a party from working, the contribution by one party to the education or increased earning power of the other, and whether one party serves as the custodian of minor children are just four reasons that could result in a disproportionate award of assets in favor of the financially dependent spouse.

Pennsylvania law presumes that all assets acquired during the marriage are marital property, regardless of in whose name the asset is titled. There are a number of exceptions to the general rule, one being an inheritance received during the marriage (provided any monies received are not placed in a joint account with one’s spouse – in which case it is presumed that the spouse receiving the inheritance has made a gift to the marital estate).

All property either spouse brings in to the marriage remains non-marital (again provided it is not placed in joint names), except for the increase in value of that property. Courts in Pennsylvania are first required to determine the total value of the marital estate of the parties and then apply the applicable factors in arriving at a distribution scheme between the parties.

If you have any questions about the process of equitable distribution please feet free to contact Ronald S. McGlaughlin and Tonia Torquato.

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