How is Property Divided in Pennsylvania Divorce?
- State: PA #17662
I have been separated for 2 years and going through a divorce. My car just died and I need to get another one. Can I buy a car in my name or will it be considered property of the marriage and run the risk of losing the car in the settlement?
Pennsylvania is a so-called "equitable distribution" state. This means that the division of property and debts between the divorcing parties should be fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. The trial court's discretion will not be disturbed on appeal without a showing of clear abuse, and the court has wide discretion in making an equitable distribution.
Even property purchased while separated may be considered marital assets. Some of the factors that may be considered by the court, among others, include the amount contributed by each party to acquiring the property, whether the property or its income has been used for the common benefit of the parties during their marriage, and the frequency of use by either party.
The following is a PA statute:
23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3502. Equitable division of marital property
(a) General rule. — Upon the request of either party in an action for
divorce or annulment, the court shall equitably divide, distribute or
assign, in kind or otherwise, the marital property between the parties
without regard to marital misconduct in such percentages and in such
manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors.
The court may consider each marital asset or group of assets
independently and apply a different percentage to each marital asset or
group of assets. Factors which are relevant to the equitable division of
marital property include the following:
(1) The length of the marriage.
(2) Any prior marriage of either party.
(3) The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational
skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the
(4) The contribution by one party to the education, training or
increased earning power of the other party.
(5) The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital
assets and income.
(6) The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited
to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
(7) 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.
(8) The value of the property set apart to each party.
(9) The standard of living of the parties established during the
(10) The economic circumstances of each party at the time the
division of property is to become effective.
(10.1) 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.
(10.2) The expense of sale, transfer or liquidation associated with a
particular asset, which expense need not be immediate and certain.
(11) Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any
dependent minor children.
(b) Lien. — The court may impose a lien or charge upon property of a
party as security for the payment of alimony or any other award for the
(c) Family home. — The court may award, during the pendency of the
action or otherwise, to one or both of the parties the right to reside in
the marital residence.
(d) Life insurance. — The court may direct the continued maintenance
and beneficiary designations of existing policies insuring the life or
health of either party which were originally purchased during the
marriage and owned by or within the effective control of either party.
Where it is necessary to protect the interests of a party, the court may
also direct the purchase of, and beneficiary designations on, a policy
insuring the life or health of either party.
(e) Powers of the court. — If, at any time, a party has failed to
comply with an order of equitable distribution, as provided for in this
chapter or with the terms of an agreement as entered into between the
parties, after hearing, the court may, in addition to any other remedy
available under this part, in order to effect compliance with its order:
(1) enter judgment;
(2) authorize the taking and seizure of the goods and chattels and
collection of the rents and profits of the real and personal, tangible
and intangible property of the party;
(3) award interest on unpaid installments;
(4) order and direct the transfer or sale of any property required in
order to comply with the court's order;
(5) require security to insure future payments in compliance with the
(6) issue attachment proceedings, directed to the sheriff or other
proper officer of the county, directing that the person named as having
failed to comply with the court order be brought before the court, at
such time as the court may direct. If the court finds, after hearing,
that the person willfully failed to comply with the court order, it may
deem the person in civil contempt of court and, in its discretion, make
an appropriate order, including, but not limited to, commitment of the
person to the county jail for a period not to exceed six months;
(7) award counsel fees and costs;
(8) attach wages; or
(9) find the party in contempt.
(f) Partial distribution. — The court, upon the request of either
party, may at any stage of the proceedings enter an order providing for an
interim partial distribution or assignment of marital property.
Please see the information at the following links:
Please see the forms at the following links:
07/20/2009 - Category: Divorce - State: PA #17662
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