Equitable Distribution in Pittsburgh
Dividing the Assets in your Divorce
Our Pittsburgh lawyers help our clients negotiate and settle disputes about the division of marital property. If the parties cannot reach an agreement regarding the division of marital property, we litigate the Equitable Division of Property in the local court system. If you have questions about Equitable Division of Property in Pennsylvania, we would be happy to speak to you.
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Equitable Distribution of Property in PA - What is the marital estate and how will it be divided?
Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC
425 First Avenue - 6th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Generally, “Marital Property” is comprised of any asset acquired by either spouse from the date of marriage through the date of separation. Also, the increase in value of any asset owned by either party prior to the date of marriage is considered a marital asset unless specifically noted otherwise in a prenuptial agreement.
Marital Assets and Debts
Marital Assets may include: the family home, real estate, vacation home(s), rental property, land, property rights, retirement plans, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, stock options, investments, cash, savings, pensions, personal property, art, collections, vehicles, jewelry, firearms, musical instruments, patents, and businesses.
Marital debts are most often: mortgages, loans, lines of credit and credit card debt.
This can be as simple as valuing the martial estate and creating an appropriate distribution based on the totality of the circumstances and wishes and needs of the parties. Sometimes this is done cooperatively or by collaborative law or mediation.
Depending on the ability of the divorcing parties to cooperate, they may be able to enter into an agreement, which takes into account the distribution of all marital assets. This option is often preferred by those people who wish to avoid having to resort to involving the court and who wish to have greater control over the final agreement.
Litigating Equitable Distribution
Other times, the parties will not agree as to what is marital property or the appropriate way to divide such assets, and in such cases, the matter will need to be litigated.
Note that “equitable” does not mean “equal.” The court will look at a number of factors including the respective employment and earning capacities of each party, and may divide the assets “equitably” although one spouse may receive a more significant portion of the marital estate.
An inheritance received by one party during the marriage is generally a non-marital asset if it is kept separate from marital funds. However if an inheritance is co-mingled with marital assets the inheritance will generally be considered a marital asset. The most common instance is when one spouse receives an inheritance and uses that money to put a down payment on a house which is acquired after the date of marriage.
Date of Separation
The date of separation is an important consideration when reviewing your options in resolving a divorce. The date of separation marks the end of the marital portion of many debts and assets while the value of other assets will be valued at the time of trial.
Use of Marital Settlement Agreements
The most cost-effective way to handle the distribution of the marital estate, including all marital assets and debts, may be through the use of a Marital Settlement Agreement, or "MSA.” On the other hand, if the parties are unable to agree on a division of the marital assets or debt, the court will be involved in a process known as equitable division of property. This is a more time-consuming process and may include one or more conciliations, as well as the exchange of formal discovery between the parties, and ultimately may require attendance at an equitable distribution trial.
Equitable Distribution - simplified overview
- Preparation and filing of Martial Asset and Liability Summary;
- Preparation and filing of Inventory and Appraisement;
- Scheduling of a Judicial Conciliation;
- Preparation of Proposed Order for resolution;
- Judicial Conciliation(s);
- Scheduling of Master's Hearing (equitable distribution trial);
- Pre-Trial Order, Additional Discovery, Expert Reports, Depositions;
- Pre-Trial statements;
- Master's Hearing (equitable distribution trial).
Equitable Distribution Factors
- 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.
Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC
425 First Avenue - 6th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: 412.303.9566 | Fax: 412.202.3852
Contact us to discuss what may be considered marital property, or for more information about Equitable Division of Property in Pennsylvania, call Scott L. Levine at 412.303.9566. We proudly serve clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Allegheny County throughout Western Pennsylvania.