Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, meaning that in the property division phase of divorce, you will not necessarily see a 50-50 split but rather a fair distribution of assets.
Preparing well in advance will streamline the process and reduce stress.
You must divide assets into those owned by you and your spouse and those owned by you separately. Each must have a value that is as close to accurate as possible since the valuation of assets such as real property, vehicles and bank accounts can be subjects of contention during the divorce.
The gathering of documents is usually a slow but necessary process. If you and your spouse have had a long marriage, you may have accumulated significant marital assets: investments, stock options, insurance policies and retirement plans to go along with your household furnishings, jewelry and valuable collections. Your season tickets for football games, fitness club membership, home office equipment and intellectual property are assets you may not think about at first.
Many people facing property division stay organized by making lists, one for marital property and one for separate property. The latter is anything you owned prior to your marriage, or family items you inherited or gifts you personally received during your marriage. Separate property is yours to keep. Your divorce attorney will need copies of everything but remember to keep copies for yourself.
Property division is also about the distribution of marital obligations, such as mortgage payments and credit card debt. As with dividing assets, the court will divide debts and liabilities based on several factors, such as each party’s financial circumstances and income. All things considered, property division can be confusing, but with good preparation, you can anticipate a better organized, less stressful process.