Divorce can understandably be challenging both emotionally and financially. This is especially true if you and your soon-to-be ex have a large number of assets you need to split.

The best way for you and your future ex-spouse to handle the division of property is for you to determine how to split your property between yourselves. The reality, though, is that many divorcing couples cannot do this amicably, so the matter typically ends up going before a Pennsylvania court.

Equitable distribution in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. This means that if a judge has to get involved in your property division matters, he or she will ultimately determine how to fairly split your assets. This might mean that division of your property won’t be equal, but it will be as equitable as the court can make it depending on your particular circumstances.

Separate property during divorce

In Pennsylvania, although you must split marital property during a marital breakup, you do not need to divide property you can prove belongs to you separately. However, you may want to know that if the value of separate property increased during the marriage, that increase may become part of the marital estate. Marital property refers to any assets you and your future ex amassed during your marriage. It also includes any debts you accrued while married.

Meanwhile, separate property refers to any pension proceeds, court awards, inheritances or gifts you or the other party received before you got married. It also refers to any assets you or your spouse purchased using separate property (for example, inheritance funds). However, if you have mixed your separate property with your marital property, it may automatically become marital property, meaning you have to split it during your divorce proceedings.

Your rights during divorce property distribution

If you and your spouse can find common ground when it comes to splitting your property, you may benefit from informal negotiations or mediation. During these alternative dispute resolution processes, you can work toward a settlement agreement that pleases both you and the other party, without further court intervention. However, even if you end up going to trial to resolve your property division dispute, you have the right to pursue the most personally favorable outcome in light of the circumstances surrounding your marital breakup.