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Division of Property
Unless you and your spouse signed a Pre-Marital Agreement, the division of marital property will be handled by a “divorce master”, a senior attorney appointed by the court. In most cases, the actual property distribution does not end up being equal.
Fisher & Fisher Law Offices has accumulated over 30 years experience in protecting the property rights of residents of Monroe, Wayne, Pike, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Carbon, and Northampton Counties. Our knowledgeable attorneys have helped hundreds of clients successfully navigate the often complex and emotional issues surrounding property division.
The Pennsylvania Divorce Code lists a number of factors that a Court can consider:
- The age and health of the parties
- The length of the marriage and any prior marriages
- Income or earning capacity, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs
- Contribution of one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party, including the contributions of a stay-at-home parent
- Opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income
- Medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits
- Assets, gifts or inheritance which is solely owned by him or her, and is not part of the marital estate
- Standard of living of the parties established during the marriage
- Economic circumstances of each party, including federal, state and local tax ramifications at the time the division of property is to become effective
- Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children
Fisher & Fisher attorneys have handled literally hundreds of property settlement cases. We advocate vigorously on behalf of our clients. Particularly when a home is involved or retirement accounts or a family business, you will need an experienced attorney to help sort out the complex issues to make sure property is fairly divided. Call us today for a free consultation.
For more information on marital property read below:
A marital asset is generally any property that is acquired from the date of marriage through the date of separation, regardless of how it is titled or owned, or who paid for it. These assets may include real estate, household furnishings, vehicles, boats, IRAs, 401(k) accounts, pension plans, cash, investments, stocks, bonds, annuities, business interests and other assets. In most cases, property owned before the marriage, property acquired after the date of separation, and gifts or inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage, are not considered marital property. An inheritance put into joint names can become marital property. However, any increase in the value of an asset that was brought into the marriage by either party is generally considered a marital asset. Marital debts such as mortgages, car loans, home equity loans and credit card debt must also be apportioned between the parties.
When a couple has significant marital assets, such as personal property, real estate, a family business, trusts, real property in other states, joint and separate accounts, investments, insurance, pensions and other assets, the distribution of property and division of debts can become quite complicated. In any divorce, especially one involving complex property issues, our experienced family law attorneys at Fisher & Fisher can offer valuable guidance and advocacy.
If the parties cannot agree on the division of their marital assets and debts, the Court will determine the distribution of the marital property in a fair and equitable manner based on the specific circumstances of the divorce. Equitable, however, does not always mean equal. Once the Court decides which assets are considered marital property, it must determine the value of the assets and then allocate the property between the spouses.
Certain types of property may generate complex valuation and distribution issues, and divorcing couples should be aware of the issues that these assets may present.
The primary residential real estate owned by the parties is often the marriage’s largest asset. Dealing with its division can be complicated, particularly when there are children involved. Courts often favor permitting the custodial parent to retain the home. However, in doing so, arrangements should be made so that the non-custodial parent receives adequate compensation for the home’s value, as well as provisions for mortgage payments, tax liabilities, insurance premiums and home maintenance and repairs. When these issues cannot be resolved, the couple may be forced to sell the home and divide the proceeds.
Pensions are also usually a significant marital asset. In the divorce, the Court may enter a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) requiring the administrator of the pension to make payments to both the employee spouse and the non-employee spouse.
The division of a family-owned business presents complex allocation and valuation issues. As with the marital residence, if there are insufficient marital assets to compensate the non-retaining spouse adequately, a forced sale or a long-term buyout may be necessary.
Many couples have a difficult time reaching an agreement about how to divide their property and debts. Because the ultimate division of property depends on the complexity of your assets and liabilities, it is important to consult with the experienced family law attorneys at Fisher & Fisher for assistance. Call us today for a free consultation.