Property Distribution / Equitable Distribution
Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution jurisdiction. Equitable does not mean equal–it means fair.
The Court considers a list of factors found in the divorce code to compare the parties and determine how to distribute the marital estate. The marital estate is made of marital property and marital liabilities. Marital property and marital liabilities are generally property and debts acquired between the date of marriage and the date of separation, regardless of whose name is on them. Property owned before the marriage or gifted to or inherited by only one of the parties during the marriage is not marital property, but an increase in value of this property may be marital.
Determining what is and what is not marital property and marital debt often becomes a complicated exercise. The beginning stage of the proceeding is usually a discovery period during which both sides collect information necessary for negotiation and trial. Both parties have the right to collect financial and other information through the use of various tools including interrogatories, document requests, depositions, requests for inspection of property and tangible things, and requests for admissions. In most cases, each side will be asked to produce documents and to answer written and oral questions.
Our cases often include professional practices and business interests. These may be marital assets that must be valued and distributed as a part of the equitable distribution process. Our attorneys provide creative strategies for handling the valuation and distribution of these types of assets. Sometimes experts will be retained to assist with the process. These experts may include a forensic accountant and various types of real estate and personal property appraisers.