Newtown Divorces & Equitable Distribution: How Do Courts Divide Marital Assets in Bucks County Divorces?

In Pennsylvania divorces, including those in Newtown, one of the issues parties face is how the marital estate will be divided.  At the request of the parties, the court will divide the marital property through equitable distribution.  Either party in a divorce action can make this request. 

When parties hear the term “equitable distribution,” they often think that all marital assets are divided equally, i.e., 50/50, as the term “equitable” suggests.  However, equitable distribution does not necessarily mean that there is an equal division of marital assets.  There are instances where one party may receive more of the marital estate than the other, and one party may even receive a significant majority of the estate. 

The court divides the marital estate as it deems fair after considering the following relevant factors pursuant to PA divorce law:

(1) The length of the marriage.

(2) Any prior marriage of either party.

(3) The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties.

(4) The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.

(5) The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.

(6) The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.

(7) The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker.

(8) The value of the property set apart to each party.

(9) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.

(10)  The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective.

(10.1) The Federal, State and local tax ramifications associated with each asset to be divided, distributed or assigned, which ramifications need not be immediate and certain.

(10.2) The expense of sale, transfer or liquidation associated with a particular asset, which expense need not be immediate and certain.

(11) Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.

Factors That Do Not Affect Equitable Distribution

Individuals going through a divorce in Newtown often want to know if adultery affects how the marital property gets divided.  While it may seem fair for the cheating spouse to get less of the marital estate, the reality is that adultery, in and of itself, does not impact equitable distribution.

Although adultery does not impact equitable distribution, it can affect alimony.  Stay tuned for an article which will discuss adultery and alimony.

Other factors that generally do not impact how the court divides marital assets are alcohol and drug use by a party to the divorce.