Division of Property
Divorce can become a very complicated process when the time comes to divide marital property. State laws typically recognize property as marital and non-marital, but not all property has to be divided equally among spouses. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you protect your assets and your financial future.
The Philadelphia divorce lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. have been assisting clients with their legal issues since 1945. We are committed to helping our clients receive a fair distribution of their marital assets as well as protect their non-marital property. Though our goal is to resolve property and divorce issues outside of the courtroom, we are thoroughly prepared to represent our clients at trial if necessary.
Marital vs. Non- Marital Property
One of the most complicated issues that arise during the divorce process is the distribution of property. When couples can agree to how they want to divide the marital assets, they can stay out of the court system, relying on mediators and divorce lawyers for guidance. In some cases, property is complicated and couples cannot reach an amicable settlement. When this happens, the couple must rely on a judge to decide how their property will be distributed.
Marital property is that which was acquired during the marriage, such as the family residence, vacation homes, rental properties, businesses, and investment properties. It can also include jewelry that was purchased, cars, time share vacations, incomes, dividends, and even benefits such as 401k and stock investments through an employer. Debt is also part of the marital property, which often creates a lot of conflict when deciding how much each spouse is responsible for during and after the divorce.
Non-marital property is an area of contention in many divorce situations because each spouse must prove their right to claim that the property belongs to them alone. Gifts or inheritances that were given to one of the spouses by a relative or friend may be considered non-marital property, yet some spouses may argue that they are entitled to half of what was given by a marital relative. Debts present additional challenges, especially if one of the spouses came into the marriage with the debt. In general, most states will consider debt acquired before the marriage, such as student loans, to be non-marital property.
How the Courts Divide Marital Property in Pennsylvania
When couples cannot amicably decide how to divide their marital property, or decide what assets and debts are non-marital property, a judge will consider several factors to determine equitable distribution. Evidence is pivotal to support your claims of ownership or rights to property. The court will not divide non-marital property, but it will decide whether the property in question will be included in the marital assets.
The judge will consider several factors to determine how to divide the marital property. The length of the marriage and the amount of property to be divided are key points, as well as determining the contributions that each spouse made to the marriage. One spouse may have been responsible for income while the other spouse focused on taking care of the household management and children at home. The breadwinner in this case is considered equal to the homemaker. In essence, the judge will most likely deem the homemaker’s contribution as vital in making it possible for the breadwinner to advance in their career. Thus, the financial benefits of the employed spouse may be shared equally with the spouse that worked inside the home.
Factors including each spouse’s age, overall health, income and employment capabilities, and debt will also be considered. The courts will look at the marital lifestyle and standard of living the couple shared during their marriage. Taking all of these factors into consideration, the court will decide on how the marital property should be divided to enable each spouse the chance to continue the lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage.
The judge will take into consideration the actions of either spouse that resulted in unreasonable debt. For example, if one spouse was responsible for incurring a large amount of debt due to gambling or careless spending, the judge may impose a larger part of the debt or all of that debt to the responsible spouse. Misconduct by either spouse, such as extramarital affairs or domestic violence, is generally not a factor in property distribution unless the misconduct had an impact on the couple’s financial situation.
Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Help Clients Achieve a Fair and Favorable Division of Property
If you or someone you know is considering divorce, the Philadelphia divorce lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. can help. Call us at 888-999-1962, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, proudly serving clients throughout the surrounding areas.