Why Hire Susan Gibson as Your Equitable Distribution Lawyer?
Retain the assets you cherish most
From determining the value of your marital assets to negotiating a fair division, your Bucks County equitable distribution attorney helps you throughout the divorce process.
Here’s how Susan Gibson helps your case:
She’ll Gather All Necessary Information
When you’re dividing property in a divorce, there will be a lot of information to obtain. You must have the current value of all assets, including the marital residence. It’s crucial to establish property value so there is an equitable distribution of marital assets.
Susan Gibson ensures the court gets all that’s necessary to distribute property fairly.
She’ll Fight for What You Want Most
Property obtained during the marriage or separate property that increased in value will be distributed between the spouses. Your attorney helps you get what matters most to you.
Gibson Family Law, PLLC helps establish what’s vulnerable to distribution.
She’ll Stand Up for Your Rights
Whether or not you worked during the marriage, you contributed to the acquisition of marital property and the value of that which you owned. You have a right to an equitable distribution of marital property.
A family law attorney understands equitable distribution laws and applies them to your case.
Types of Property in a Marriage
Distinguishing what’s rightfully yours
Two types of property exist within a marriage: marital property and separate property. The division of these properties varies depending on the specific factors of each divorce case.
Marital property is that which is acquired during a marriage, including the increase in value of what is considered separate property. It includes both assets and debts that either or both of the spouses have obtained at any time after the date of marriage and before legal separation. All marital property is subject to equitable distribution in PA.
Separate property may have been acquired before marriage or after legal separation. Non-marital property includes any gifts or inheritances received from third parties (not your spouse).
Additionally, non-marital property includes assets specifically excluded by a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Separate property is not generally divided upon divorce unless it has gained value during the marriage.
Equitable Distribution in Pennsylvania
Ensuring your assets are distributed fairly in your divorce
From determining the value of your assets to negotiating a fair distribution, your equitable distribution lawyer can help you with all steps of the division of marital assets.
Equitable division does not necessarily mean “equal” division. It means assets and debts are allocated fairly between both parties. The court will consider many factors when determining what is a fair and equitable distribution of property.
Division of Property
All assets and debts are distributed equitably in Pennsylvania. That means that both parties will likely walk away with some property and some marital debts. Everything acquired during the marriage is subject to equitable distribution.
Higher-earning spouses do not necessarily get more property. Similarly, spouses who have not worked much or at all won’t leave the marriage empty-handed. The court’s goal in equitable distribution is to put the parties in almost the same position that they were in during the marriage. This can be hard to understand, especially if you feel you contributed more to the marriage.
Distribution of Indivisible Property
While the court works to fairly divide all property acquired during the marriage, some assets cannot be separated, such as the marital residence or motor vehicles.
In those cases, the court will typically allocate the property that cannot be divided to one spouse and provide a similar value of other property to the other spouse. That may mean that one spouse gets only the house, and the other spouse gets everything else. However, each case is different.
Division of a Business
If one or both parties owned a business, that would be distributed. Parties are not usually forced to sell and divide the value of a business. Instead, it is most likely that ownership of the company will be given to one spouse while the other spouse gets other marital assets to make the division equitable.
Division of Debt
Debts, such as credit cards and personal loans, are also divided between spouses upon divorce. This ensures both spouses are responsible for everything acquired during the marriage.
Factors that Impact Distribution of Property in PA
The court will consider many factors when determining how property should be distributed between spouses.
Possession of physical property, such as houses and cars, may be decided based on which spouse needs the asset most. For example, if one spouse gets primary physical custody of the children, they may need the home to keep the children within the same school district. The other spouse will receive an equitable share of the value of any asset for which the other spouse is awarded physical possession.
However, when considering things like retirement accounts, the court is able to distribute portions of those accounts to either spouse, regardless of who holds title to the account. For example, if one spouse has a hefty 401k and the other spouse has been a homemaker for several years, the homemaker spouse may still be able to get some of the value of that retirement account, or their equitable share from other assets.
Other factors considered in the equitable distribution of property include the following:
- Earning power of each spouse
- Value of separate property
- The degree to which a spouse contributed to the acquisition of marital property
- Future financial needs
- Liabilities (and debts) of each spouse
- Age and overall health of each spouse
- Liquidity of marital property
- Spousal maintenance and alimony
- Prenup and postnup agreements
Pennsylvania Equitable Distribution FAQs
Separating from a spouse can be confusing, especially when you’re trying to maintain the things you hold dear. We answer your most common questions about PA equitable distribution.
How Does My Prenup or Postnup Impact Property Division?
A prenup or postnup operates like a legal contract in a marriage. Upon separation, any property addressed within these documents will be divided according to the agreement. The only exception is if fraud or coercion was involved in creating the prenup or postnup.
I Stayed Home for Most of My Marriage. Am I Still Entitled to Assets?
Yes. Both spouses are entitled to an equitable distribution of all marital assets. The court’s goal is to put both spouses in the same situation after marriage as they were during the marriage.
How Can I Benefit My Case?
The best thing you can do in an equitable distribution case is promptly provide your attorney with all necessary paperwork. The quicker your lawyer can untangle your finances, the better situation you’ll have seeking to keep the property that matters to you.
I Owned a Business Before My Marriage. Is My Spouse Eligible for a Portion of It?
A business is viewed as an asset. If you owned it before marriage, it would be considered premarital or separate, property. However, any increase in value during the marriage would be divided equitably. Typically, only the increased value would be divided, not the actual ownership of the business.
Are Gifts Considered Marital Property or Separate Property?
It depends on who gives and receives the gifts. If one spouse gives a gift to the other spouse, then that property is generally considered marital property and is subject to Pennsylvania equitable distribution laws. However, if a third party gives a gift to one spouse, that may be regarded as separate property.
Will I Get More Marital Property if My Spouse Cheated on Me?
No. A court does not typically consider things like adultery or drug and alcohol abuse when distributing marital property.
Let Gibson Family Law, PLLC Help You Divide Your Assets Fairly
You don’t have to leave every decision up to the court. You and your spouse can come to an agreement about what matters most to each of you and divide those things fairly. Attorney Susan Gibson has been working with family law clients for almost 15 years. She is ready to help.
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