Divorce and Equitable Distribution

Divorce and equitable distribution in Pennsylvania follows certain procedures. One party files and if the other party agrees, it is possible to end the marriage after three months. If the other party does not agree, then the marriage cannot be ended until one year has passed.

Splitting the property and determining whether alimony is appropriate is another matter entirely. The parties must trade information, obtain appraisals of real estate and pensions, and then examine the value of the estate in light of the length of the marriage, sacrifice of career and other factors listed in Pennsylvania’s Divorce Code.

Equitable distribution has several stages. The first is discovery and the determination of dates and values, the second is the filing of the inventory, filing of the pre-trial statement and the pre-trial conference and finally, the hearing with the master. One may also decide to file exceptions with the judge or file for a de novo (brand new) hearing before a judge, depending upon the procedures in place in the county of the divorce.

Procedures for equitable distribution vary by county. Check your local rules. Equitable distribution hearings usually include any claims for alimony and counsel fees and costs. After the master’s hearing, the parties may file exceptions to the master’s report.

The factors and law governing equitable distribution and alimony can be found at this link. the factors are listed as follows:

“(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.”

The alimony statute appears at this link.

The articles on this web site are offered to you for informational purposes so that you can ask questions of your attorney should you decide to file for divorce. No information here can take the place of the advice of an attorney.

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