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Pennsylvania Marital Property Laws

All of the property acquired by a couple during marriage is considered marital property and thus subject to division during the divorce process. Some states (not including Pennsylvania) recognize "community property," in which all property is jointly owned. Ohio marital property laws follow the majority of states in allowing for several different methods to divide marital property after a divorce.

The following chart and links will provide you with information about Pennsylvania marital property laws, while the discussion below it provides more in-depth information. See FindLaw's Divorce and Property section to learn more.

Community Property Recognized? No. State Supreme Court held community property law (§§48-201, et seq.) invalid under state constitution (357 Pa. 581, 55 A.2d 521)
Dower And Curtesy Share of spouse's estate which is allotted to surviving spouse by rules of intestate succession or by election against will is in lieu and full satisfaction of dower or curtesy at common law (§§20-2105)

Separate Property

In Pennsylvania, separate property is property that is owned by one spouse only. This is property that was acquired or purchased before the marriage, or after the marriage if acquired by gift, bequest, or devise. Also, property that was purchased with money earned before the marriage is separate property. Whether a business and its revenue is separate property depends on where the value of the business comes from. If most of the value is in the idea of the business conceived before the marriage, the business and its revenue is more likely to be separate property. If the business's value comes from the amount of time and effort a spouse puts into the business, rather than just the idea of the business, income from the business is more likely to be marital property.

Marital Property

Marital property covers money earned and property acquired after the marriage, in Pennsylvania. Marital property is subject to division in a divorce, and may present issues when administering a will or trust document.

Dividing Property

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. This means that in the event of a divorce, a court will distribute the couples property in a way that it believes is fair. This does not meant that the court will divide the property exactly in half. Courts consider a number of factors when deciding how to divide a couple's property, if they do not agree to a property division themselves. Some of those factors may include:

  • Income and liabilities of each spouse
  • Obligation for spousal support in a previous marriage
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Expected pensions and retirement benefits
  • Each spouse's ability to provide for his or herself
  • Tax consequences of dividing property
  • Any other factor a court may consider to be proper

If you would like to know more about Pennsylvania's marital property laws, there are many attorneys throughout the state with divorce law experience who may be able to help. In addition to helping you understand how property is divided in a marriage, these attorneys can also help you plan for, and finalize a divorce. Divorce attorneys are usually able to help you with commonly associated legal issues, like child custody, child support, and spousal support (sometimes known as alimony).

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