Preparing for Equitable Distribution
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. 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. In any divorce involving equitable distribution, the parties are tasked with identifying all the property to be considered. Specifically, Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1920.33 discusses the requirement of each party filing an Inventory. The Inventory should list all marital assets and debts at issue. An Inventory must be filed prior to requesting a hearing on equitable distribution. Further, if you are served an Inventory first, you have twenty (20) days to file your own Inventory. In this regard, it is certainly helpful to have some understanding of what you and your spouse have prior to filing for divorce. You can supplement the list of marital property if you do not have knowledge of all the assets and debts at the outset.
The second part of Rule 1920.33 goes over the requirements for a pre-hearing statement. This statement is to be prepared when your case is ready to go to court on equitable distribution. Again, you will list all marital assets and debts. However, by this stage in the divorce you should have gathered all the information you need and be able to provide more detail regarding the assets, debts and their values or balances. Corroborating documentation should be attached to the pre-hearing statement as exhibits. Pre-hearing statements should be filed at least sixty (60) days prior to a scheduled equitable distribution hearing. The court does have the ability to impose sanctions for failure to file these forms as directed by the rules. It is important to work with an experienced family law attorney when dealing with equitable distribution matters to ensure all marital property is identified and subsequently submitted to the court in a timely fashion.