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What is Marital Property?

January 21, 2013

Marital property or the marital estate includes all property acquired by either party during the marriage until time of separation. increases in value of certain non-marital property also may be part of the marital estate, but the rules regarding this are beyond the scope of this this entry. It is important to know what constitutes your marital estate because that is the whole of what gets divided subject to the Pennsylvania laws of equitable distribution.

There are different types of assets that fall into the general category of marital estate. Broadly these assets are: Financial this includes financial assets such as bank accounts, investments, such as stock and bond holdings; Personal Property such as, furniture, art, cars, and yes, pets; Real Property such as the family home any vacation home, time share or investment property; Retirement Benefits such as, a pension, IRA, 401Ks, profit sharing plan or any other deferred compensation plans;  and Business Interests

In Pennsylvania, as in most states, assets are divided equitably, which means in a fair manner. This could mean fifty/fifty (50/50), but not always. Depending upon the circumstances, one spouse may get a slightly different percentage, such as 55/45% or 60/40% . A range of circumstances determine the percentage proportion of equitable division.

When looking at the complete marital estate and property division, debts acquired during the marriage also must be considered. Common debts would include mortgages or other encumbrances on property, credit card debt, business loans, college loans, and other personal loans. Debt is not necessarily apportioned equally, and although debt acquired during marriage is marital, courts have discretion to apportion debt to the party most responsible.

Few life situations require such close attention as the analysis of the marital assets and a plan for division. It is important to fully share financial information with your attorney and to feel confident that your attorney understands your financial picture. if you do not already have a financial advisor or wealth manager, it may be advisable to initiate a relationship prior to divorce, and have that person assist in planning, as well. Fear of what the financial future will look like is a realistic and urgent concern for many facing divorce. Knowing your rights and working out a plan often helps to ease that fear.