Pennsylvania divides property through its equitable distribution system, which means that the court may decide who takes ownership of a certain property. All assets acquired while married legally belong to both spouses, and during a divorce, the two soon-to-be-ex-spouses may find it difficult to determine who gets to keep various assets.
When two individuals cannot agree on their own, a judge may divide their assets and property for them by the Keystone State’s equitable law. The term “equitable,” however, does not mean that a couple should expect an equal division. The court views “equitable” as meaning what is “fair” for each spouse.
Factors determining equitable division
As noted by Reader’s Digest magazine, a family court judge may determine equitable distribution by taking into consideration factors such as:
- A spouse trying to conceal assets during a divorce
- How quickly a property sells or converts into cash
- Whether the children may need the property
- Each spouse’s income potential after the divorce
- The spouse who contributed the most financially or through his or her education
- How long the marriage lasted
Dividing property before the court hearing
Couples who can determine how to divide their assets and property without the judge’s input may go through the process of divorce much more smoothly. Sometimes, spouses may decide to sell an asset or property and split the proceeds equally between each other. They may also negotiate on how to split a property by its value or simply by whoever benefits the most from an asset. When an asset has a high value, however, spouses may decide to trade property between each other or pay the spouse who takes ownership half of what an asset is worth.
When two individuals cannot agree, the divorce court may divide the property for them. The equitable distribution system, however, may not result in what one spouse thinks is fair. Understanding the divorce process may help in asserting a spouse’s legal ownership rights when property division becomes difficult.