If you have a divorce coming up, you’re probably worried about a lot of things. You’ve worked hard your entire life to build up what you have now, and you might be worried about losing half or even more of it to your spouse if asset division goes poorly. How can you know what you might receive and what you might lose in a Pennsylvania divorce?
Property division agreement
The short answer to the question of “what might I receive in my divorce?” is “anything you can convince your spouse to give you.” In other words, you don’t necessarily have to let the court divide your property for you – you have the chance of negotiating your own private agreement concerning how to divide up your property.
You can hire attorneys, a mediator or both to negotiate how you want to divide up your assets. If you can come to a final written agreement, then you can present it to the court for approval. The court will be looking to make sure that both sides had a fair opportunity to negotiate for what they want and what they think is fair. If neither side seems overly disadvantaged by the agreement, then the court will likely adopt it and implement it into the final divorce decree.
If you can’t come to an agreement, however, then the court will have to divide your property for you.
Marital and separate property
They will do this by first categorizing your assets into marital property (which is subject to division) and separate property (which its owner keeps, and which won’t be divided). Most things you acquired during your marriage count as marital property, while most things you had before you were married (or received as a gift or inheritance) are your own separate property that you can keep.
Courts in Pennsylvania do not necessarily divide marital property 50-50. Instead, they divide property according to principles of fairness. They will look at your earning capacity, health, age and other life circumstances, and those of your spouse, and they will give each of you a portion of your marital property that is fair in your situation.
It can be devastating to lose a large portion of your property in a divorce decree. It’s good to know that at least you will have the opportunity to negotiate for what you want most out of your marital property.