As the divorce process gets closer, you likely have concerns about property division and how you can protect your assets. After all, nobody wants to see their hard-earned assets go away. Carefully identifying, characterizing and valuing your marital property is key to ensuring you remain financially stable throughout the process.
In a Pennsylvania divorce, you can take two main approaches to dividing property: coming to a mutual agreement with your spouse or litigation. Below is an overview of these two asset-division methods.
Property settlement agreement
You and your divorcing spouse can enter a voluntary property settlement, which is often quicker, cheaper and less stressful than litigation. Entering this agreement involves the following steps:
- Identification – Make a list of all assets owned together and separately, including tangible items such as homes, cars and furniture and intangible items such as bank accounts, retirement plans and trusts.
- Categorization – Determine which assets count as marital and personal property, taking into account the date of separation.
- Valuation – Find out what the assets are worth, which might require the help of an accountant or financial advisor.
Entering a PSA and avoiding litigation is ideal if you and your soon-to-be-ex are willing to work together.
Going through the court
Sometimes a mutual agreement is not possible. If your divorce is particularly contentious, you might have to litigate your property division. The court will follow the terms of your prenuptial agreement, if applicable, or consider the following factors:
- How long you were married
- Both of your incomes and earning abilities
- How either spouse contributed to the education or training of the other
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Tax implications and expense of transfer or liquidation of property
These are some examples of what the court will consider. Each division is dependent on the particular details of your marriage and assets.
If you are unsure whether you should pursue a mutual solution or litigation, contact a divorce attorney for advice.