If you live in Pennsylvania and wish to end your marriage, you must file the appropriate paperwork and navigate a legal process. This process might include mediation, arbitration or litigation, according to your needs. A divorce also includes property division, which, in this state, operates under equitable property guidelines.
Do not confuse the word “equitable” with “equal,” as many people do. The latter means an even 50/50 split. The former, however, means “fair.” Fair does not necessarily mean equal. If you are finalizing your divorce in court, the judge will take numerous factors under consideration to determine how to split your marital assets.
Is one spouse more employable or educated than the other?
Pennsylvania divorce laws function on the premise that spouses are not equal in their skills, abilities or needs. If your ex earns a six-figure income and you have been at home full-time for years while raising a family, the court will no doubt determine that your financial needs are vastly different from your spouse’s.
The property settlement will reflect this. There is at least one issue that supersedes equitable property division rules, and that is prenuptial terms of agreement. You may have signed a prenup that designated specific assets under separate ownership. Such assets remain separately owned in a divorce and are not subject to division.
A spouse’s behavior can influence the court’s property division decisions
If you have cited your spouse’s extramarital affair as a reason for divorce, or if you are leaving an abusive partner, the judge might reduce your ex’s settlement. Also, the court can increase a particular spouse’s liability for a specific debt. There are several reasons why a judge might determine that one spouse is able to pay more or should pay more than the other regarding debts.
No two divorces are the same in Pennsylvania or anywhere. You deserve the maximum to which you may have a right to receive in a divorce settlement. The court will divide all assets you acquired during marriage, as well as all debts you and your spouse incurred. Assets might include money, stocks and bonds, a business and more. Debts might be associated with a mortgage loan, credit card balances or college loans.
Review state laws before signing an agreement
Whether property division, child custody, child support or any other divorce-related topic, you’ll want to make sure you clearly understand state laws regarding the topic before you sign a legal document. Once a family law judge issues a court order, you and your ex must adhere to its terms. If you have questions about legal issues, it’s better to ask someone experienced in this area of law rather than assume you know the answers.