The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania uses the process of "equitable distribution" to distribute the marital property, including debts, during a divorce. Generally, all assets and liabilities (debt) acquired during the marriage, no matter whose name they are in, make up the marital estate. There are some exceptions to this general rule.
An important note: equitable distribution does not necessarily mean "equal" distribution. Rather, equitable means a distribution that is fair in light of the circumstances. The court first determines which property makes up the marital estate, and then applies a statutory set of factors to determine what an equitable distribution of the assets and debts would be. The court will give a written report to the parties of its findings.
The equitable distribution factors are listed in Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23, Section 3502. They include:
Pennsylvania is not a community property state. In a community property state, such as California, the spouses are joint owners of all marital property and the court's job is often to find a way to split everything 50/50. Pennsylvania, like most states, is an equitable distribution state. Equitable distribution is not equal distribution; the court must determine what split is equitable. This could be 60/40, or 55/45, or another division, depending on the circumstances.
If you are considering divorce in Pennsylvania and want to learn more about equitable distribution, contact the Law Office of Wesley W. Legg, Esquire LLC today at (484) 401-7079 or via our online contact form to set up a consultation. Wesley W. Legg represents clients living in Chester County, Montgomery County, and Delaware County.