The dissolution of a marriage will inevitably change a person's life in various ways. You may find this to be a particularly stressful and intimidating period, and the outcome can vary drastically depending on the decisions you make. Depending on your situation, there may be certain aspects of the divorce process that are crucial to your future best interests, and you may find it beneficial to have a certain level of understanding of the process before entering negotiations.
Regarding divorce, the division of assets can have a significant impact on your financial future. The type and amount of assets you and your spouse possess will likely determine the intricacy of the process. If you are able to grasp the manner in which assets are divided, you may find it less difficult to obtain an equitable portion during proceedings.
The difference between separate and marital property
Separate property typically consists of any assets acquired before marriage, any inheritances or any gifts from a third party. You will usually retain these assets after your divorce, provided you didn't mix them with marital assets in any way. Anytime that separate assets, such as a property or a business, increase in value during marriage, the amount by which each increases may be considered marital as a result.
Marital property generally consists of all assets acquired during a marriage. You may consider assets such as bank accounts and/or real estate properties to be your biggest concerns during the property division portion of your divorce, but the following items can also play a substantial role as marital property:
- Pension plans
- Stock options
These are just a handful of the many potential assets that could be subject to division. An attorney experienced in family law can ensure that you receive all of the marital property to which you are entitled during your divorce, and will also protect your rights to any separate property you own.
Community property versus equitable distribution
The laws that apply to the division of assets can differ depending on the state. Some states are community property states, in which both spouses are equal owners of all marital assets, and divide them as such. Others are equitable distribution states, where a number of different factors determine the division of assets, provided each spouse will obtain at least an equitable portion during proceedings. In Pennsylvania, a settlement does not have to be equal, but it does have to be fair and equitable.
Where can I turn for assistance in the process?
When facing the dissolution of your marriage, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. You may understand how imperative it can be to obtain a fair and equitable settlement, but you may be unsure how to proceed. By choosing to retain the services of an attorney during this daunting process, you can gain much-needed peace of mind from knowing someone will be thoroughly reviewing your situation, advising you on any laws that may apply and assisting you in securing the most favorable outcome possible.