Equitable Distribution Vs. Community Property
For many married couples across America, the opportunity to share finances and build wealth for themselves and their children is a source of great pleasure for each spouse. When relations in the marriage stay strong, spouses can continue to build a financial safety net well into their elder years. However, when a marriage enters a state of conflict and couples begin discussing divorce, all of a sudden the certainty of that financial safety net is called into question.
When separation is inevitable, some couples can amicably discuss and organize an equitable split of their accumulated assets. This is typically made easier when each spouse has a relatively balanced income and overall earning power. However, when divorce is imminent and there is a significant difference in income and earning potential between each spouse, the use of an experienced Media divorce attorney can help couples prepare for property division.
These legal professionals can help spouses understand how their accumulated assets and debts, as well as any other property acquired before marriage, fit within Pennsylvania’s divorce laws. While consultation with a divorce attorney is always the preferred course of action, there are some general points of knowledge regarding property division in Pennsylvania that all residents should be made aware of. Therefore, this article aims to provide residents with some baseline knowledge on how property division works in a Pennsylvania divorce, and how this system compares to what is used in other states.
Equitable Distribution in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s property division system is one that is used by the majority of states in America today. Known as “equitable distribution”, under this system a divorce court will attempt to distribute a couple’s assets equitably, but not necessarily equally. In other words, a judge will look at income, earning potential, and a number of other factors and determine what percentage of a married couple’s total assets should be assigned to each spouse after the divorce.
While all property acquired together after the marriage is typically considered joint property and thus subject to equitable distribution laws, there are some exceptions. For example, any property acquired before the marriage and maintained in sole possession of one spouse is typically exempt, although consultation and clarification with a divorce attorney is advised.
Community Property in Other States
In a minority of states, a different system of property division is used. Known as “community property”, this system attempts to achieve an equal 50/50 split of property division, without much consideration for the relative earning power or separate property of each couple. This system is currently used in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
When to Contact an Attorney
While this article clearly explains the differences between equitable distribution and community property and the nuances involved in each system of property distribution, this information should be considered the first stepping stone towards a comprehensive understanding of property division when divorcing in Pennsylvania.
To fully understand and engage in this system, spouses in Pennsylvania need the support of an experienced divorce attorney. For help with your case, reach out to Barbara Flum Stein & Associates today.