Practice Areas - Equitable Distribution

Practice Areas

Equitable Distribution

Generally, in Pennsylvania, property acquired after the date of marriage through the final date of separation is marital.  However, certain exceptions exist.  For example, if any property was inherited by or gifted to a spouse during the marriage, the initial gift/inheritance is not marital, but the growth/increase in value on the gift/inheritance will be marital.  Any property owned on the date of marriage, is likewise excluded, but if the pre-marital property gains value during the marriage, that gain is likely marital. 

When facing divorce, spouses will need to decide how to divide the property that is marital between themselves, which is the largest part of the divorce process.  Pennsylvania will divide property through a process known as equitable distribution. The distribution of the property between the spouses will not necessarily be equal but instead will be divided according to the  factors set forth at 23 Pa.C.S.A. §3502.

Essentially, the court recognizes financial and non-financial contributions each spouse may make to the acquisition of assets during the marriage and will divide the property on account of those contributions.  The court will also consider each spouse’s future ability to acquire assets/provide for themselves individually once the divorce is final.

The most common assets considered are: real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, tangible personal property, automobiles, boats, businesses, and retirement accounts. However, the term “marital assets” broadly includes anything else that was acquired after the parties’ date of marriage through a final date of separation.

Whatever issues may exist, or may arise in your case as it progresses, you can feel confident that Gibson Family Law has all of the resources, knowledge, and expertise needed to counsel you through the entire divorce process.

How do I find out about my spouse’s assets?

During the divorce process, you will have the right and/or the obligation to ask and/or provide all of the relevant financial information to the other party so that you and your spouse can work with your attorneys to identify the marital assets, to value the marital assets, and to ultimately agree on how to divide those assets, or if no agreement is reached, ask the court to divide those assets.

Many of my clients come into the divorce process without any information about their joint marital finances because they trusted their spouse to manage the financial aspects of their marriage.  Not knowing what you have or do not have as you face the life-changing event of divorce can be extremely unsettling.  I have counseled hundreds of clients through that process and a large part of my role as your attorney will be arming you with all of the information you need to make the best financial decisions for yourself after the divorce is final. 

For those who managed the finances and have all of the information, my role is to help you produce the documents and information that is necessary to move through the divorce process in an informed manner. 

For all of my clients my goal is to complete the discovery part of the process efficiently and cost-effectively so that we can focus on the most important aspect of your case, which is the final division of the marital assets we identify in the discovery phase.

I work with a team of financial experts, such as forensic accountants, pension valuators, business valuators, and the like to ensure we value your assets or your spouse’s assets accurately and that we have uncovered all of the assets that exist.

What are the Equitable Distribution Factors?

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 parties.

(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 marriage.

(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.


Pennsylvania is a “no-fault divorce” state.

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Equitable Distribution

Pennsylvania divides assets equitably not equally

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There are two categories of custody: physical and legal

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Child Support

Child Support is given to the custodial parent.

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Spousal Support/APL

Spousal Support is paid while separated but still married.

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Alimony is support received after a divorce is final.

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