Property Division / Distribution

Property Division & Equitable Distribution


When it comes time to divide up the marital assets, most of the arguments are over the family photographs, videos, Christmas ornaments, and furniture. Although the cost to litigate who gets what generally exceeds the cost of replacing the items, when neither party is willing to bend, they end up paying the equivalent of $3,000 each for that VCR from 1985!

Although the current statutory provision regarding the classification of marital property can be found at 23 Pa. C.S. § 3501, it is usually much more complicated.

The statute defines 'marital property' as “all property acquired by either party during the marriage and the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired.”

The following is specifically excluded from marital property:

(1) Property acquired prior to marriage or property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.

(2) Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties entered into before, during or after the marriage.

(3) Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property.

(4) Property acquired after final separation until the date of divorce, except for property acquired in exchange for marital assets.

(5) Property which a party has sold, granted, conveyed or otherwise disposed of in good faith and for value prior to the date of final separation.

(6) Veterans' benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure pursuant to the act of September 2, 1958 (Public Law 85-857, 72 Stat. 1229) [FN1], as amended, except for those benefits received by a veteran where the veteran has waived a portion of his military retirement pay in order to receive veterans' compensation.

(7) Property to the extent to which the property has been mortgaged or otherwise encumbered in good faith for value prior to the date of final separation.

(8) Any payment received as a result of an award or settlement for any cause of action or claim which accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of final separation regardless of when the payment was received.

It is suggested that you come prepared with a list of all of the items you wish to take with you. Sometimes, an attorney is better able to negotiate for those personal items, resolving the issue quickly and saving you time and money. Other times it may become necessary to retain the services of an arbitrator to make a binding decision (one that cannot be appealed).

If you need an attorney with knowledge and experience litigating equitable distribution matters, contact us today for your free consultation.

The information contained herein is dedicated to providing public information regarding Family Law issues in Pennsylvania. None of the information on this site is intended to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of attorney client relationship. Please contact our law firm for information regarding your particular case. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.