How “Fair” Can Be Anything But:
What to Expect From Pennsylvania Equitable Distribution
Picture this: While married, you and your future ex-spouse purchase a 1933 Ford 3-window Coupe. You work hard to fix the engine and mount the doors; all while your future ex yaks about nostalgia and possible paint colors. Divorce rears its ugly head and you guys can’t decide who should get the car. Enter Pennsylvania equitable distribution. The term “equitable distribution” describes the Pennsylvania court process of dividing any disputed marital assets and debts – disputed being the keyword. If you and your old boo can agree to how each marital asset and debt will be divvied, then there is no need to see the equitable distribution arena. Pat yourself on the back for choosing an ex-spouse who at least sees the value in being a little reasonable. Good for you. However, more often than not, spouses are in a battle filled with anger, spite, and tons of curse words. So. Let’s just say that Pennsylvania equitable distribution gets a lot of play.
During equitable distribution, a Court of Common Pleas judge will decide how each disputed marital asset and debt will be divided. While the term “equitable” technically means fair, anytime someone other than you is deciding the future of your assets and your debts, there is a chance you will walk away feeling like the process was anything but. It’s important to remember that equitable distribution does not always mean that the judge will divide the marital assets and debts equally. When deciding how the marital property should be divided, the court weighs a variety of factors. Some of the factors include:
- Length of the marriage
- Previous marriages
- Non-marital assets, including assets excluded by a prenuptial agreement
- Spouses’ ages, health, and income(s)
- Whether either spouse contributed to the other’s increased earning potential (how much income a person could earn based on education, job skills, and work history)
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Tax consequences of any award, and
- Whether either spouse will be serving as the custodian of any minor children.
You may be thinking, “Nialyn. You just don’t understand. My spouse cheated on me with 109 different people, and we definitely won’t agree about who is gonna take what. Surely the judge will just give me everything because of how triflin’ my spouse was during the marriage, right?” Wrong. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania courts do not consider either spouses “fault” in causing the divorce. But, take heart. The judge will want to hear all your relationship woes during the alimony portion of your case.
At DLG, we understand that equitable distribution can be anything but fair. Give us a call today and we can discuss the marital assets and debts that you can and can’t afford to lose. We’ll even talk to your ex about how unreasonable it is for you not to take the classic car – I mean… come on. Choosing the paint color is just as important as the engine work.
*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.*