During the divorce process in Pennsylvania, all marital property needs to be identified, valued, and divided between spouses. Dividing real estate, bank accounts, pensions, and other property types can lead to conflict between the parties. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help you protect yourself and navigate the division of property process as smoothly as possible.
Contact a Property Division Attorney in Pittsburgh
Working with an experienced attorney can help you protect yourself during the property division process. At Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace, our divorce attorneys know Pennsylvania’s equitable division laws. We use our knowledge and experience to pursue a fair agreement regarding the distribution of assets. Reach out to our experienced divorce attorneys to schedule an initial case evaluation.
Defining Marital Property
The difference between marital and separate property is essential during a divorce. Courts have the authority to divide marital property between spouses. Separate property will remain with the spouse who owns the property after the divorce. In some cases, one spouse will try to claim that your separate property is marital property so they can acquire part of it through the divorce. The attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace will work to ensure that your property is correctly categorized.
Marital property includes property acquired by both spouses during the marriage. There are some exceptions to the general rule. Gifts and inheritances received by a spouse during the marriage are not considered marital property. When property obtained by one spouse before the marriage increases in value during the marriage, the amount of the increase is considered marital property. Even if your name doesn’t appear on the title to a vehicle or the mortgage, it may still be considered marital property. The following properties can be divided between the parties when they are considered marital property:
- Bank accounts
- Real estate
- Stocks and bonds
- Rental property
- Investment property
- Personal property
- Businesses owned by the parties
Pennslyvania is an Equitable Distribution State
Pennsylvania is considered an equitable distribution state, not a community property state. Courts will divide marital property evenly between the parties in community property states. One spouse will receive half of the marital property, and the other will receive the remaining half. In equitable distribution states, the parties may not receive an equal percentage of the marital assets.
Courts have the discretion to divide marital assets and debt in a way they deem fair or equitable. As a result, a court could decide that one spouse is entitled to 70% of the assets while the other spouse is entitled to 30%. The equitable distribution process aims to divide assets and debts equally but achieve a fair and equitable distribution of marital property.
What Factors Do Judges Consider When Dividing Marital Assets?
In some cases, spouses can work together to agree on a settlement agreement. At Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace, we frequently help clients negotiate a settlement agreement out of court, saving both parties time, money, and stress. Working with a third party, neutral medical can help move forward on issues that are difficult to resolve. When the parties agree on how their assets and debts should be divided, they can pursue an uncontested divorce.
Agreeing to a settlement isn’t always an option, however. A court will resolve the matter when a divorcing couple can’t agree on property division. Judges consider multiple factors when deciding how to fairly and equitably divide the marital assets and debts, including:
- The health and age of each spouse
- The duration of the marriage
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- Each spouse’s income and personal property
- The contributions made to the marriage by each spouse
- The future earning potentials of each spouse
- Tax obligations
- Physical custody of the minor children
When adultery or other types of marital misconduct have occurred, courts will not consider the misconduct when dividing the marital property.
Division of Marital Debts as Property in Pittsburgh
Marital debts include debts that either spouse acquired after the marriage and before the date of separation. The need to divide credit card debt between the spouses is common during a divorce. Even if a credit card was only in one spouse’s name, both parties are responsible for the debt if he or she used the credit card during the marriage. As with marital assets, courts will attempt to divide the marital debt between the parties using the principle of equitable distribution. Common marital debts include:
- Credit card bills
- Car loans
- Tax obligations and judgments
- Home equity loans
Pensions and 401(k) Plans
For many parties seeking a divorce, their pension, stock plan, 401 plan, stock options, or deferred compensation make up a significant part of their wealth. Dividing retirement and pension accounts can be complicated. When a spouse acquires any part of their pension or a retirement account during the marriage, that portion is considered marital property. It must be shared with the other spouse during the divorce. In the negotiation stage, you may be able to trade other assets in exchange for obtaining your full retirement benefits.
For example, some spouses may decide that one spouse will keep the home while the other keeps his or her full retirement account. The attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace have extensive experience working on divorces that involve significant retirement accounts and assets. We have the resources and professional network to locate hidden assets that one party may be hiding in an attempt to keep them after the divorce. We frequently work with financial professionals and retirement evaluators to effectively locate, value, and categorize retirement assets so they can be fairly divided.
Discuss Your Division of Property Case with a Skilled Attorney
The attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace have the resources and knowledge to ensure that your property is correctly identified, valued, and equitably divided. We will answer your questions and keep you up-to-date on any development in your case. Our divorce attorneys can provide you with the strong legal representation you deserve, advocating for a fair division of marital property. Contact Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace to discuss your case with an experienced attorney.