Can Property Owned by One spouse be Divided in a Pennsylvania Divorce?

Marital Property in Pennsylvania

In a Pennsylvania Divorce, marital property is defined as anything of value, which was acquired between the date of the marriage and the date of separation. Whose name is on the property doesn’t matter for this purpose. Marital property includes things such as a home, vehicle, bank accounts, furniture, and pension plans.

Property owned before the marriage is not marital, unless it was transferred to joint ownership. Even if it remains solely in the name of one spouse, the increase in value during the marriage is marital property. A claim for this would have to be made during the Divorce. Inheritances are also excluded from the definition of marital property.

Anything that is marital property is subject to equitable distribution. In Pennsylvania, this doesn’t necessarily mean a 50-50 division: the Divorce Code requires that the Court consider a list of factors which must be considered when deciding how marital property is divided.

Increase in Value of Non-Marital Property

The increase in value of separate property can be divided during a divorce. For example, if one spouse owned a home before the marriage, and title was never put into joint ownership, the other spouse could still make a claim for some portion of the home’s value: it may have increased in value during the marriage, because property values increased, payments were made on the mortgage, or improvements were made to the property.

Pensions

Another common situation arises with pensions. Suppose one spouse began contributing to a pension plan before the date of the marriage, and continued to do so after the date of separation. The portion of the pension he or she earned during the marriage can be divided, but whatever was earned before or after cannot. In some cases, this can be done through a formula, which defines the marital portion of the pension. Typically this would be a fraction, where the numerator is the number of months of the marriage, and the denominator is the total time the person was contributing to the pension plan.

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