By a Newtown, Bucks County Divorce Lawyer
As the times have changed, so have people’s perception of married life. While the laws governing divorces in Pennsylvania have remained relatively constant, the changing approaches to marriage necessarily require different approaches to modern divorces. For this reason, an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney is a critical component to a successful divorce.
Traditionally, people married at younger ages and typically comingled their assets from the outset. In these cases, there are often less discovery disputes in divorces, since, although the marriage often had one wage earner, the parties’ assets were openly shared from the beginning. In these traditional marriages, there is typically very little, if any, premarital property to address during the divorce, further simplifying the equitable distribution of marital property.
Over the last fifty years, there has been a clear trend of people waiting longer to get married for various reasons, including educational commitment and financial planning. While the Pennsylvania divorce law does not distinguish between traditional and modern approaches to divorce, its application will certainly vary depending on the circumstances of each divorce case.
Implications of Premarital Assets in Bucks County Divorces
Family law attorneys, including Pennsylvania divorce attorneys, must now place greater emphasis on the potential implications of premarital assets, whether negotiating divorce settlements or preparing for trial. As people are marrying later, they are also establishing more valuable premarital estates, which although are excluded by Pennsylvania law from distribution in a divorce, are relevant as to the ultimate distribution of the marital estate. For some, it is potentially beneficial to enter into a prenuptial agreement with their spouse, which can reduce or even eliminate the uncertainty associated with both premarital and marital assets in the event of divorce. Although as discussed below the commingling of accounts between spouses is not as common as it once was, if spouses do commingle their accounts after marriage, the increasing sizes of premarital estates often promote litigation. The law does not provide clear guidance for the ultimate distribution of commingled assets that are both premarital and marital in nature, so it is imperative to have a competent divorce attorney who is familiar with not just the law, but also the local procedure.
The reality is that new married couples are regularly keeping their assets separate throughout their marriage. Unfortunately, many newlyweds think this may somehow benefit them in a divorce by clearly identifying “separate” property. However, absent few exceptions, property attained during the marriage, including wages, is marital and therefore subject to equitable distribution. Moreover, the increasingly independent married couple may find the divorce discovery process to be more comprehensive and invasive. With traditional comingling of assets, it was more difficult to conceal assets from a spouse without raising suspicion. As this trend has changed, married couples have become less informed of their own marital estates, and more focused on only their contributions to it. These issues of uncertainty must be addressed in the beginning of the divorce process to ensure your divorce settlement can be properly negotiated.
As people’s approaches to marriage evolve, so must the divorce attorney’s application of the law to each case. For more information, please contact us to speak with an experienced Bucks County divorce attorney. We look forward to helping you.