Montgomery County Division of Assets & Debts Attorney
Frequently, unless the spouses were only married a few months or had a solid postnuptial agreement, property division is the most complex portion of a divorce case. Since Pennsylvania is an equitable division state, there are a number of issues involved in these divisions. Overall, marital property must be divided in such a way that the divorce is not an unfair financial burden on either spouse. Fulfilling that mandate is not always easy.
Whatever unique legal and financial situation your divorce involves, the experienced Montgomery County division of assets and debts attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand have probably seen it before. Over the years, we have helped thousands of people establish a firm financial foundation for the next chapters of their lives. In other words, both spouses have legal and financial rights in these proceedings. We ensure that your rights are protected.
Commingling is the most common issue in marital property division matters. Commingling is practically inevitable, unless the marriage was very brief.
The most simple example is something like Husband using money from his paycheck (marital asset) to pay off his student loans (nonmarital debt).
Other situations are much more intricate. Assume Husband acquired a rental house before the marriage. Then, Wife used a gift from her parents to fix up the house. Depending on the facts, the house, along with all past and future rental income, could be Husband’s nonmarital property, marital property subject to equitable division, or Wife’s nonmarital property. These facts mostly include the size of Wife’s investment and the condition of the house prior to that gift (i.e. was it rentable or not).
The “equitable division” portion of this equation is also complex. There is a presumption in Pennsylvania law that a 50-50 division is equitable. However, that’s only a presumption. To rebut that presumption and divide either assets or debts unequally, a spouse must usually present rather compelling evidence on one or more of the factors listed below.
The burden of proof in these situations, a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), is not very high. The burden of persuasion is often a different matter. Some judges almost routinely order unequal divisions, and some almost never consider such proposals.
Factors to Consider
Pennsylvania law sets forth a number of factors to consider during property division proceedings. Some of the major ones include:
- Standard of Living During the Marriage: Divorce almost inevitably lowers a person’s future standard of living. But one former spouse cannot live in poverty if the other one lives in luxury. In these situations, an unequal division is usually appropriate.
- Dissipation (Waste) of Assets: This factor is usually a back door for considering fault in the breakup of the marriage. If Wife spent $10,000 on gifts for boyfriends, Husband might be entitled to a share of that lost money in the form of a disproportionate division.
- Earning Potential: Since property divisions are not subject to future modification, future income potential is more of a factor in these situations than it is in alimony matters. No one has a crystal ball, but an educated guess is relevant.
- Contributions to Other Spouse’s Career: “Fair” is a synonym for “equitable.” If Wife supports Husband through medical school, Wife is not only entitled to a share of Husband’s future income. She is also entitled to credit for her financial sacrifice.
Attorneys should be mindful of these factors during court hearings and mediation sessions. Arguments which focus on the factors usually resonate with judges. And, the court might not approve a settlement which is inconsistent with key property division factors.
Connect with an Experienced Attorney
Pennsylvania law requires all marital property divisions to be equitable under the circumstances. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Montgomery County, contact Kardos, Rickles & Hand. We routinely handle matters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.