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Collaborate. Mediate. Separate. Divorce Doesn’t Have to Mean War.

Examining the divorce asset distribution rules in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania couples who are thinking about divorce may be interested in how asset division works in the state. Understanding these principles can help a spouse to prepare for the end of a marriage, in order to protect their rights to property during the process.

In Pennsylvania, property is generally divided into marital and separate property categories. In general, separate property is any property obtained before the marriage or after the separation, any gifts or inheritance given to only one spouse and any personal injury damages awarded to a spouse separately. Everything else is considered marital property. In some cases, however, separate property can be considered marital property, depending on how it is used during the marriage. When the separate property is commingled with the rest of the marital assets, it may be considered marital property. If the separate property is used to purchase jointly-owned assets, like a home, this may also make it marital property.

Marital property is subject to equitable distribution during a divorce. This doesn't necessarily mean that there will be an equal division of the marital assets, but simply that they will be divided in a way that a court sees as fair to the parties. A court will look at various financial and other factors in making this determination.

Rather than leaving this property division decision up to a judge, couples may be able to negotiate their own divorce settlement agreement that would cover this issue. If many of the divorce legal issues are not contentious, a couple may be able to save time and money by using mediation or collaborative divorce to govern their separation. An attorney with experience in family law may be able to assist a client in going through the process.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: Here's How to Protect Your Inheritances And Gifts", Jeff Landers, August 19, 2014

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: Here's How to Protect Your Inheritances And Gifts", Jeff Landers, August 19, 2014

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