Doylestown & Newtown, PA Divorce: Separate Property and Debt

Inventory of the Marital Estate

For purposes of preparing for equitable distribution of property in Pennsylvania divorce cases, we recommend that our clients keep detailed and organized records of their assets and debts, whether by way of using Excel, Quicken/other financial software, or some other method that is convenient.  Not only does such record keeping ensure that no asset or debt is omitted from the property division, but it also helps to keep the legal fees down.  Rather than focusing on the acquisition and organization of this underlying financial information, attorneys can focus their efforts on the analysis and determination of strategy in terms of approaching the client’s particular set of circumstances.  Oftentimes, having a detailed account of the marital estate from the outset facilitates the negotiation process between parties who want to avoid lengthy and costly litigation.

Below are some of the assets and debts that parties facing divorce in Pennsylvania should include in their inventory of the marital estate.

Assets of the Parties

In Pa.R.C.P. 1920.75, which sets forth the general form inventory to be used by parties proceeding to equitable distribution, the following list of assets is included, which may be helpful for purposes of getting started with a marital estate summary:

  1. Real Property
  2. Motor vehicles
  3. Stocks, bonds, securities and options
  4. Certificates of deposit
  5. Checking accounts, cash
  6. Savings accounts, money market and savings certificates
  7. Contents of safe deposit boxes
  8. Trusts
  9. Life insurance policies (indicate face value, cash surrender value and current beneficiaries)
  10. Annuities
  11. Gifts
  12. Inheritances
  13. Patents, copyrights, inventions, royalties
  14. Personal property outside the home
  15. Business (list all owners, including percentage of ownership, and officer/director positions held by a party with company)
  16. Employment termination benefits—severance pay, worker’s compensation claim/award
  17. Profit sharing plans
  18. Pension plans (indicate employee contribution and date plan vests)
  19. Retirement plans, Individual Retirement Accounts
  20. Disability payments
  21. Litigation claims (matured and unmatured)
  22. Military/V.A. benefits
  23. Education benefits
  24. Debts due, including loans, mortgages held
  25. Household furnishings and personal items (include as a total category and attach itemized list if distribution of such assets is in dispute)
  26. Other

Distinguishing Between Separate, Marital and Transferred Property

For marital assets, the summary should include:

  • The name(s) in which the asset is titled
  • The value of the asset as of the date of marriage
  • The value of the asset as of the date of separation
  • Any contributions/enhancements to the value of the asset (i.e., 401(k) employer/employee contributions, capital improvements to real estate, etc.) following the date of separation
  • The current value of the asset

For any assets that are alleged to be separate (non-marital property), the summary should include:

  • The name(s) in which the asset is titled
  • The value of the asset as of the date of marriage
  • The value of the asset as of the date of separation
  • The current value of the asset
  • The basis on which the asset is sought to be excluded from marital property

For any assets that were transferred (sold, exchanged, etc.), the summary should include the following additional information:

  • The date of transfer
  • The consideration received for the transfer
  • The person(s) to whom the asset was transferred

Liabilities of the Parties

Most parties have liabilities, whether in the form of mortgages, credit card debts, student loans, etc., which must not be overlooked.  In documenting liabilities, it is important to include the following information:

  • The name of the creditor
  • The name(s) in which the debt is held
  • The balance of the debt as of the date of marriage
  • The balance of the debt as of the date of separation
  • The amount of any payments made since the date of separation
  • The amount of any charges incurred since the date of separation
  • The current balance of the debt

More Resources from Our Divorce Lawyers in Doylestown and Newtown