Steps in Equitable Distribution

Equitable distribution is the term used in Pennsylvania as it relates to division of marital property in a divorce. Marital property will consist of nearly everything acquired in either party’s name from the date of marriage through the date of separation. Equitable distribution does not mean an automatic 50/50 split of all marital property. Instead, the statute on equitable distribution sets out thirteen (13) factors to be considered when seeking to set percentages for distribution on a case-by-case basis. In any divorce involving equitable distribution, the parties should first identify 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.

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 (i.e. after you have grounds for divorce). Again, you will need to list all marital assets and debts, however, you should also include more detailed information regarding the assets and debts such as their values or balances at date of separation and present. Corroborating documentation should be attached to the pre-hearing statement as exhibits. Appraisals may be needed to confirm the fair market value of real property or defined benefit retirement plans such as pensions. Pre-hearing statements should be filed at least sixty (60) days prior to a scheduled equitable distribution hearing. 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.