Couples increasingly choose to keep finances separate.

Finances continue to top the list of issues leading to divorce. A recent report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that couples are attempting to address this issue in many ways, including keeping finances separate and tailoring prenuptial agreements to address property division and alimony issues. These practices are particularly common for couples with children from a previous relationship and those getting married later in life.

Property division in Pennsylvania

Those that find themselves considering or moving forward with a divorce listing financial concerns as a contributing factor are not alone. It is wise to have a basic understanding of how these issues are addressed during the divorce proceeding. Essentially, if a couple cannot come to an agreement on their own all marital property is divided in a manner deemed "fair" by the court. Any property acquired during the marriage is considered marital property. This includes real estate, personal property, retirement assets and business interests as well as debt.

Separate property is the property that is deemed to be owned solely by one of the partners to the marriage. This can include assets acquired prior to the marriage or inherited and kept separate. An inheritance that is placed in a joint account is likely considered marital property.

When making a determination, a court in Pennsylvania can take a variety of factors into consideration. Some examples include:

  • Duration. The length of the marriage can be taken into account.
  • Health. The overall health of each individual can be taken into consideration. This includes a review of the individual's age and any disabilities.
  • Support. Any contribution made by one spouse to the advancement of the other's profession is also taken into consideration. This includes support while one receives additional education or training.
  • Standard. The standard of life that each spouse is accustomed to is also considered.

These are just a few of the many factors that may be reviewed when the court makes its determination. It is important to note that although marital misconduct is not taken into account, an attempt by one individual to deplete the assets or accumulate debt in an attempt to reduce the overall value of the marital assets prior to the divorce will be taken into account.

Divorce in Pennsylvania: A lawyer can help.

Property division is just one issue that arises during a divorce. Some issues can be complex and contentious. As a result, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney. This legal professional will advocate for your rights, working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.