Divorce can be emotionally and financially taxing, especially if you’re unsure about how your marital assets will be divided and how debt will be handled. Our family law attorneys at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad can help you understand how divorce law in PA works and ensure your rights and interests are protected.
Full Financial Disclosure
At the start of any divorce proceeding, divorce law in PA requires full financial disclosure of each spouse’s assets, debts, income, and expenses. Both spouses may be expected to provide various financial information, including pay stubs, tax returns, evidence of all earnings, savings, credit card, and loan reports, IRA and 401(k) statements, deeds, vehicle titles, insurance policies, a list of personal property, monthly expenses and bills.
Collecting this information can be daunting, especially when only one spouse has handled most of the finances during the marriage. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you gather the required documents and help you with any changes or updates that may be required during divorce proceedings. If you dispute your spouse’s financial disclosure or need assistance collecting accurate information concerning their finances, your attorney can obtain it through the discovery process.
Equitable Division In PA
In Pennsylvania, marital property is distributed based on the premise of equitable division. This means that assets are split based on what the courts consider fair and equitable, not simply an equal 50/50 share. When determining how to divide marital assets, courts consider various factors, such as:
- The length of the marriage
- Previous marriages by either spouse
- The standard of living the couple enjoyed during their marriage
- Each spouse’s income
- Each spouse’s future earning potential
- Contributions one spouse made to the training, education or increased earning potential of the other spouse
The age, health, employability, vocational skills, liabilities, and individual needs of each spouse may also be taken into account. Divorce law in Pennsylvania takes these factors into account when determining alimony or spousal support as well. It’s also important to note that bad acts, such as having an affair, aren’t typically taken into consideration when dividing marital property unless you squandered marital assets while carrying out bad decisions. Depending on your specific situation, an experienced divorce attorney may be able to negotiate a marital settlement agreement that both parties approve, which can save you time, headaches, and the expense of going to court.
Types Of Property And Debt
Divorce law in PA considers three types of property or debt when it comes to the distribution of assets — marital property, separate property, and marital debt. Marital property is the only type of property that’s divided by the court. Before your property can be split, the court must determine which property is owned by both of you, what items belong solely to your or your spouse, and how much all assets are worth.
Marital property is all property that’s obtained or earned during the marriage, even if it’s titled in only one spouse’s name. Common examples of marital property include your home, personal property purchased during the marriage, and intangible property, including retirement accounts, benefits, income, and dividends. If you wish to exclude an asset from equitable division, you’ll have to demonstrate to the court why it should be regarded as nonmarital property.
Nonmarital property is assets each individual owned before marriage or acquired after the date of separation. It may also include assets that are received during the marriage, such as an inheritance. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if something you owned separately increases in value, that increase may be considered marital property. For example, if you still own a home, you purchased before marriage and its value increases, the court may deem the increase in value marital property.
Debts are taken into consideration the same way as any other property. Before dividing a debt, the court determines whether it’s marital or separate based on when it was incurred, who incurred it, and how it was used.
Contact A Divorce Lawyer To Learn More
At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices, our divorce attorneys are committed to helping families feel empowered throughout the divorce process. If you have questions about divorce law in PA or need assistance with other family law issues, contact us online or call us today at 610-867-2900 to schedule a consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Bethlehem, Allentown, Stroudsburg, and Topton, Pennsylvania.