While getting ready for a divorce, one of the first things you consider is property division. You may have concerns about who gets what. Additionally, you probably have a lot of questions about how the process of dividing marital property works.
Before you split up any assets, you must go through the process of identifying, categorizing and valuing them. Here are the general steps and guidelines for dividing marital property in a Pennsylvania divorce.
The first step is to make a comprehensive list of all your assets, whether you own it personally or together with your spouse. This list should include tangible property, such as real estate, cars, jewelry, furniture, collectibles and business assets. You should also include non-tangible property, such as retirement plans, bank accounts, life insurance policies and stock options.
Next, you must determine what assets are non-marital or marital. Generally, marital property includes any assets you or your spouse acquire during your marriage. Non-marital assets include those acquired before marriage, inheritances or gifts to one spouse, and assets acquired after separation. You get to keep the separate property, while marital property is subject to division and distribution.
Before you divvy up your marital estate, it is necessary to determine how much each asset is worth. Certain assets, such as real estate and cars, are relatively easy to value based on fair market value. You may need to get a professional valuation of certain complex assets, such as businesses, retirement plans or collectible items.
Asset division in divorce depends on a few things. First, if you and your spouse can come to a mutually acceptable agreement, you can decide everything without the court intervening. The same goes for any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. However, if you cannot come to any type of agreement with your spouse, the court will divide your property in a way that it deems fair, which may not necessarily be an equal split.