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Pennsylvania recognizes equitable division of property in divorce

When thinking about ending one's marriage by filing for divorce, there are many facets of a family's life to take into consideration. For instances, married parents often first think of how divorce might affect their children and their custody situation. Most parents have concerns about finances or assets when making a change in marital status. All of these questions can be addressed prior to, or during, the divorce process.

Since divorce, and thus property division is regulated by state law, it is important to understand how Pennsylvania views divorce regulation. Pennsylvania is what you would consider an equitable distribution state. That is, all marital property is to be split fairly between spouses, and this is different from how community property states view marital property. This applies to retirement accounts, real estate and other assets.

On the other side, this can apply to liabilities as well -- if liabilities were taken out under both names than it is likely that both parties can share that liability. There are all kinds of assets and liabilities than car be attributed to one or both parties during division of property that occurs during a divorce. What the item is, how it was acquired and how it was used are all determinants on whether it is considered marital property and thus, equitably divisible. Retirement plans, like 401(k)'s, can also be divided, even if the account was contributed by one spouse's wages exclusively.

For this reason, equitable division of property exists in a divorce. It would be unfair for just one spouse to take years of wages attributed to a 401(k) account, when the other spouse made sacrifices in lieu of his or her career. Thus, equitable division seeks to adjust for these inequalities. In a divorce, the process and outcome is meant to be fair for both parties.

Source: Family.FindLaw.com, "Divorce Property Division: FAQ," accessed on March 6, 2017

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