Berman & Asbel, LLP

Property division eased by proper financial planning

When a Pennsylvania couple divorces, one of the most difficult aspects of the process involves the division of marital assets. The property division portion of a divorce can increase one's litigation costs exponentially, leaving all parties with less in the end. The best means of preventing lengthy and involved property division debate is to clearly outline the ownership of assets while the marriage is still intact.

For some couples, a prenuptial agreement is the best way to cover these issues. By drafting a contract prior to marriage, the manner in which property is deemed marital or separate can be clearly delineated. Even couples who failed to create a prenuptial have the option of using a 'postnup,' which is a similar document used for couples who have already wed.

Another issue that can arise in a divorce involves inheritance assets. It is vitally important that spouses take steps to keep these assets separate from marital assets during the marriage. If funds from an inheritance are used for marital purposes, the balance of the inheritance could be at risk for division upon divorce. An example would be using a portion of an inheritance to fund home improvements, or to pay off a debt held by both spouses.

Many Pennsylvania spouses approach this type of planning as a negative, and believe that taking steps to protect one's assets assumes the likelihood of a failed marriage. However, clearly outlining how assets are held and ultimately distributed is simply savvy financial planning. In the best scenarios, such precautionary measures are never needed. In cases in which a marriage ends in divorce, having these issues already addressed can make the property division process much easier, saving both parties stress and litigation costs.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: When You Earn More Than Your Husband," Jeff Landers, April 10, 2013

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