The Lowdown on Gifts Made Between Spouses in Pennsylvania
Once upon a time, there was a man named Bob and a woman named Gale. Bob and Gale were married in Pennsylvania. During their marriage, Bob purchased Gale the most beautiful, one-of-a-kind birdcage for their family Amazon Parrot. The couple named the bird Marsha Lou. Soon after marrying, Bob realized that he loved Marsha Lou more than Gale, and he intended to run off with the bird and never return. Gale filed for divorce, and the couple agreed about everything except who would keep the birdcage that Bob gifted to Gale. While this story is a rather crazy, a gift made between spouses can cause very real problems when it comes to Pennsylvania divorce and equitable distribution. So, who gets to keep the birdcage? Bob or Gale?
You’re probably thinking, “Nialyn, Bob gave Gale the birdcage. Obviously, it belongs to Gale… duh.” Butttt, it’s not that easy. When it comes to equitable distribution – which is the division of all property owned between both spouses – it matters which property is marital and which property is not. Marital property is defined as all property that was obtained during the marriage – regardless of how it is titled. Usually, even if a gift was given during the course of a marriage, that gift belongs to the spouse whom it was given. But, the rules change when one spouse gave the gift to the other spouse – gifts made between spouses are considered marital property.
Because Bob and Gale did not previously agree that Gale would remain the owner of the birdcage even in the event of a divorce and because they can’t agree who owns it now, Bob and Gale would proceed to equitable distribution and the court would decide how to divide the birdcage. The court may opt to have the birdcage sold and the proceeds split, or it may choose a different way to equally divide the birdcage. No matter which way the court chooses, once your items enter into the hands of the court, unless you can come to an agreement during the equitable distribution process, the future of your items is at its mercy. So, unless Bob and Gale want to possibly have to sell their birdcage to some random person, they should come to an agreement.
We understand that equitable distribution can be frustrating. Give us a call today and we can help you make sense of your marital and non-marital property. Heck. We’ll even buy you a birdcage and an Amazon Parrot. What would you name it?
… okay… we won’t really buy you a birdcage… or a parrot.
*Our office accepts Pennsylvania family law cases including divorce, equitable distribution, spousal support, alimony pendente lite, alimony, paternity and child support matters, child custody cases, juvenile law cases, and related matters in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Beaver County, Berks County, Butler County, Clearfield County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County (Greensburg).
Our law firm accepts Pennsylvania family law cases from other Pennsylvania counties including Armstrong County (Kittanning), Clarion County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Somerset County, and Venango County.*