Equitable distribution is the term used in Pennsylvania referring to division of marital property at the time of divorce. Marital property will consist of nearly everything acquired in either party’s name from the date of marriage through to the date of separation. It will also include pre-marital assets that have increased in value during the marriage. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split of all marital property. Instead, the statute on equitable distribution sets out 13 factors to be considered. Those factors are listed in 23 Pa C.S. 3502. While the length of marriage is a factor in equitable distribution, it does not mean that assets won’t be split at all in shorter marriages.
If the parties have to go to court for equitable distribution, they will be required to submit a statement beforehand laying out what they allege is the marital property at issue, how the factors listed affect their case, and what they are ultimately seeking as an “equitable” distribution. It is important to have knowledge of all the marital assets and debts at issue. Additionally, parties should have documentation to prove the value of any assets and debts to be addressed. Key dates for valuation may include date of marriage, date of separation and final hearing date. Items acquired after the date of separation but prior to the final divorce decree should also usually be excluded.