Getting divorced is a life-changing event that people do not take lightly. In addition to the emotional trauma and familial changes that you will like experience, your financial stability and future can change dramatically. This is because when you get divorced, you have to split up your marital assets.
How your assets are divided will have a considerable impact on your future, which is why you will want to make sure you understand the process and what will likely happen to your the money, debts and assets.
In Pennsylvania, the courts comply with equitable distribution laws, which means assets are divided equitably, not necessarily in half. They (or you, in cases involving mediation and collaboration) will assess the entirety of the marital estate as well as factors like earning potential, and then decide how and if specific assets will be distributed. Assets will fall into one of two categories.
- Marital assets/debts, or any asset/debt accrued during your marriage, are eligible for division. They will be distributed in a way deemed fair; again, this is not the same as being divided equally. You might receive more money but less property, or your ex might get a larger share of the assets because he or she will be at greater financial disadvantage after the divorce.
- Separate assets, which include assets owned before the marriage, will stay with the owner and are generally not eligible for distribution.
Complications can and do arise during this process. Divorcing spouses may disagree on whether an asset is considered marital property or not; there can be a dispute over who keeps certain items or how much complex assets like a business are worth.
Because this is a very broad explanation of the property division process in Pennsylvania and because no two divorces are the same, it is a good idea to consult an experienced family law attorney to ask questions and discuss your specific situation.