While there certainly are many emotional issues to deal with during a divorce, the legal process is mostly concerned with the well-being of any children involved and the financial aspects of the marriage. Fairly dividing those assets and liabilities often means the difference between successfully moving forward after a divorce or spending months or years struggling to get back on your feet.
Each state has its different laws, and each marriage has its unique elements. Nevertheless, there are many common financial factors divorcing couples typically deal with.
Dividing your assets
Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means the courts will attempt to divide your property as fairly as possible in order not to leave either spouse with considerably less than the other. You and your spouse may be able to reach a similar agreement without going to court, but generally, the more wealth you have, the more complex your assets may be, including real estate, businesses, investments and shares.
Your retirement plan and other such assets may also carry tax implications that could drastically reduce their value. Additionally, spousal and child support may not be tax deductions for a spouse who pays, so it is wise to seek financial advice for these issues.
Dividing your debts
Even couples with high net worth may also carry significant debt, such as mortgages, car payments and credit cards. These are also on the table for division during a divorce, and you will want to make sure you do not get stuck paying debts you do not owe. Checking your credit report and identifying those which are exclusively yours or your spouse’s can facilitate the division of these debts.
If your court order or settlement determines that any joint debts go to your spouse, be aware that the creditor can still legally pursue you if your spouse neglects to pay them. This is true even if you have a divorce order. For this reason, it is a good idea to pay off as many debts as possible before the divorce to avoid the issue altogether.
The more you know
Property division in a divorce can be complicated, especially where complex assets are involved. Learning as much as you can about Pennsylvania’s property division laws and the tax implications for certain assets may provide you with an advantage that will help you fight for your rightful share of marital property.