What Gets Divided During a Divorce?

When you get divorced, you and your spouse are doing more than ending your marriage and freeing yourselves from the other person’s company. You’re also disengaging from the property and assets, as well as the debts that you previously shared. Some of those items may have been acquired by one of you prior to being married and others were acquired during the marriage, but all of them will have to be divvied up – and that can be a very difficult process.

In terms of what gets divided, the answer is everything: all assets and all debts. The question of who gets what is far less straightforward. Because Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, property gets divided based on what the court believes is fair, and that does not always mean that it will be equal. The court will consider several variables in determining parity, including:

  • How long you’ve been married
  • How old you each are
  • How healthy you each are
  • How much income you each earn
  • Value of non-marital assets
  • Existence of a prenuptial agreement
  • Whether there are children of the marriage and how custody will be divided
  • Whether either spouse helped advance the other’s career/income/education
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Employability of each spouse

Property that was owned prior to marriage by only one partner will generally remain with that individual. This can include bank accounts and investments, property such as real estate or vehicles, and any gifts or inheritance where only one person was the named beneficiary.  This property is considered separate.

Alternatively, anything that you purchased during the marriage is considered community property, and the same is generally true of income placed into a joint checking account and any earning from investments, even if owned separately.

In dividing assets, it is not always possible to divide things neatly. When that is the case, the value of different assets is used to achieve equity. If you are able to communicate with one another without animosity or angst, it is always a good idea to try to make decisions about the division of property between the two of you rather than have a court intervene. Start by making a list of all assets, noting which are obviously personal and should not be discussed, which are joint, which are separate, and what their values are.  If you can come up with a logical plan, you’ll save yourself a good deal of aggravation. If you are unable to do so and need assistance, contact our compassionate divorce attorneys today to see how we can help.