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Is Pennsylvania A Community Property State?

If you are a married Pennsylvania resident contemplating divorce, you probably are wondering how assets accumulated during a marriage are allocated during a divorce. While Pennsylvania is not a community property state, whatever property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage, including all money earned by each of you, is considered to be marital property. This property, however, is not necessarily owned jointly by you and your spouse, nor will it necessarily be divided equally between you and your spouse when you divorce.

Separate property

Any property, real or personal, that you bought or otherwise acquired prior to your marriage is your separate property, not marital property. Likewise, any property you bought after your marriage, but paid for with money you earned before you were married, is your separate property. In addition, any property you received as a gift during your marriage is yours alone.

If you and your spouse own a business together, how much of it is marital property as opposed to separate property depends on numerous factors, including the following:

  • If the company’s main value is the concept or idea on which it was and is based, the business is marital property if those concepts and ideas came about during the marriage.
  • If one of you came up with the company concepts and ideas prior to your marriage, then the business is the separate property of that person.
  • If the company’s main value is the time and effort put into establishing and running it, then the business likely will be considered marital property.

Dividing marital property

Even though Pennsylvania is not a community property state, it is an equitable distribution state. Marital property must be distributed between divorcing spouses in a fair manner. What is fair depends on a variety of considerations, including answers to the following questions:

  • What is each spouse’s income and liabilities?
  • How long have you and your spouse been married?
  • How old are each of you and what is the health status of each of you?
  • How much ability does each of you have to provide for himself or herself?
  • Do either of you have financial obligations to a former spouse?
  • Do either of you have an expected pension and/or retirement benefits?

Pennsylvania courts normally accept whatever property division agreement you and your spouse reach. However, if you cannot come to an agreement, a judge will divide your marital property in a way that he or she considers to be fair and equitable.

Contact our legal team in Media, PA today

For more information on community property in PA, contact Attorney Louis Wm. Martini today.