One of the biggest causes of dispute during divorce is disagreement regarding how to divide marital property. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state which means that the distribution of assets is not necessarily equal. This flexibility means that you and your spouse can work together to determine what a “fair” or equitable division of your marital assets will be.
Reaching such a “fair” or equitable division of marital assets is more complicated than it sounds however, particularly if you and your spouse are not getting along. For example, you might believe that you’re entitled to at least half of your assets, but your spouse may argue that he or she is entitled to more than half. Very often, emotional and personal factors will interfere with and prevent a rational and balanced analysis of all of the evidence and documents. This is where the court steps in and decides for you and your spouse what it thinks is a “fair” and equitable division of marital assets.
There is no requirement in the law that you split your assets 50-50 and the court will look at what it thinks a “fair” and equitable division is based on its understanding of all of your supporting evidence and documents. This means that a court imposed division of marital assets can be unpredictable and it is therefore a good idea to work with your spouse to decide how to divide your assets. Negotiating together guarantees that you will have a say in the final outcome. If you don’t negotiate and ask a judge to make the determination, the division of assets will be completely up to the judge’s opinion and/or state guidelines.
If you do end up asking the court to decide on the division of your assets, make sure you have information identifying your separate and marital assets. Provide supporting documents to show which assets you purchased or how much money you invested into your marital property. You must be able to support your claim for whatever amount of assets you seek when you go to court. You may want to consult with an experienced attorney if you find yourself in this situation.