A couple going through a divorce will need to deal with the division of marital assets and debts. After the filing of the divorce complaint, either spouse may request that the court divide debts and assets held by the couple. This will be handled under the principle of equitable distribution that governs property division in Pennsylvania.
It is important to recognize that most items acquired while a couple is married are considered to be marital assets. Additionally, the increase in value of a piece of real estate during marriage that was previously owned by one party prior to the marriage will be considered marital property. Furnishings, cars, homes, pensions, bank accounts and life insurance are all examples of assets that may be considered during property division in a divorce. The division of both debts and assets may be based on factors such as the income of each individual, health, age, longevity of the marriage, custody of children, and contributions toward improvement of property. Marital misconduct is not taken into account by the court in its determination.
It is important to recognize that failure to request that the court address property division issues prior to the finalization of a divorce may result in forfeiture of the right to a fair settlement. It is important to realize that laws related to property division can be complicated, making it important to consider seeking dependable counsel related to the process. Additionally, it may be important to work with a lawyer in a case involving a spouse's efforts to dissipate assets.
In dealing with the challenges of divorce, an individual may find that a lawyer is able to clarify concerns about various assets that may be of concern during the settlement process. Additionally, a lawyer may provide strategies for ensuring that debt division is handled to minimize the potential for later legal and financial problems.
Source: Neighborhood Legal Services Association, " Divorce Law in Pennsylvania", September 15, 2014