Assets Property & Retirement Division

propertyCan I Afford A Divorce?

You have worked hard to create a nice life for yourself. You may have a secure well-paying job, a business, a home, maybe a vacation property, bank accounts, vehicles, investments and lots of personal items that you have acquired. You may have started saving for retirement. Separation and divorce can throw a wrench into a cherished stable and prosperous family economic unit.

One of the first questions individuals faced with divorce often ask is, how will I come out of this economically? Can I afford a divorce? At BFL we recognize how important this information is to you. At BFL we understand that divorce raises economic as well as emotional upheaval. We know that unhappiness with the present, but fear of the future can be paralyzing. At your initial consultation we will gather critical information that will enable us to give you from the start an overall view of what you can expect.

Equitable Distribution

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. That means marital property will be divided in an equitable way. Equitable means fair. It does not necessarily mean equal. In many cases distributions will be 50%/50%, but in others, distributions may be 55%/45% or 60%/40% or other combinations. Each case is reviewed on its facts to determine fair share. Items that are taken into consideration for division include:

  • Real Estate
  • Business Interests
  • Financial Investments
  • Bank Accounts
  • Life Insurance
  • Pensions; IRAs; 401Ks
  • Personal Property
  • Money owed to you or your spouse
  • Marital debt

BFL helps you evaluate your assets and liabilities, and we will assist you in determining the most effective and fair way to reach a settlement. To assist us we have a network of professionals including: financial planners, investment counselors, business valuation consultants, tax and estates attorneys, and real estate brokers. These professionals always are available to you to offer their assistance, analysis, and on-going services

Your Property Settlement Agreement

Generally, you need to divide marital property through the legal device of a marital property settlement agreement in order to get divorced in Pennsylvania.

A Marital Property Settlement Agreement can be accomplished in two ways:

  • Negotiated between the parties and their attorneys;
  • Litigated before an Equitable Distribution Master and entered as an Order of Court.

Optimally, it is better if you and your spouse can negotiate an agreement. It will cost less, and likely be more agreeable to both of you well into the future, since it is what you worked out.

When it comes time to negotiate your Agreement we will inform you about what is separate and what is marital property, and what constitutes your marital estate. While there is no such thing a legal separation agreement in Pennsylvania, there is a concept of “legal separation,” and determining the date of separation is important to establishing your marital estate and other factors. We are experienced in these concepts; we will work with you to evaluate what is in your marital estate, and to ensure that it is divided equitably. If there is a question about the value of an asset in your estate – such as a business, or a pension or annuity-- we have experts that we use to assist us in valuation. If there are tax consequences as a result of a certain distribution we may recommend you to one of our tax professionals, who will assist in this aspect of property settlement.

To learn more about division of assets, about marital retirement assets, or for help with your property settlement, Contact us.