FACTORS IN DIVORCE IN DIVIDING ASSETS AND DEBTS
Under the Pennsylvania Divorce Statute, there are various factors that a court considers when they decide what percentage of the marital assets each party is entitled to receive.
Pennsylvania is not a community property state but instead is an equitable distribution state, meaning that it is not usually a 50-50 division unless all factors are equal. How much weight the court gives to each factor is up to the discretion of the court. In practice, many courts weigh as the biggest factor the disparity in income between the parties, and they tend to award the spouse who earns less money more of the assets. One factor the court will not consider in determining how to distribute these assets is the marital misconduct of the parties, which is only considered in determining alimony. This means that if your spouse cheated on you and your spouse made more money than you, then that affair will not have any impact in the divorce itself. This is a very difficult concept to accept if you are the victim of the affair, but it is important to understand this before energies are directed in the wrong direction without any financial gain.
WHAT THE COURT WILL CONSIDER
The factors the court will consider are as follows:
- The length of the marriage.
- Any prior marriage of either party.
- The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties.
- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
- The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
- The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker.
- The value of the property set apart to each party.
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective.
- The federal, state and local tax ramifications associated with each asset to be divided, distributed or assigned, which ramifications need not be immediate and certain.
- The expense of sale, transfer or liquidation associated with a particular asset, which expense need not be immediate and certain.
- Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.
The court also has the power to enter an interim distribution of any assets while the case is pending and may also determine who may live in the marital residence while the action is pending, although normally this is reserved to cases in which abuse has occurred. The court can also require that both life insurance and health insurance remain in place while the divorce is pending and can also require a party to purchase either life or health insurance.