Equitable Distribution in Pittsburgh Divorce Cases
Pittsburgh residents facing divorce often need an understanding as to what equitable distribution means under Pennsylvania law. Equitable distribution deals with how your marital assets and debts will be divided. Most Pittsburgh divorce litigants may expect to have accumulated some marital property or debt between the date of marriage and the date of separation making an analysis of property division, or “equitable distribution”, necessary in most Pittsburgh divorce cases.
One of the first misunderstandings clients usually hold is that equitable distribution means that property and debts will be divided “equally.” This is not so. Under Pennsylvania law, an equitable distribution of property in divorce means that marital property and debts will be divided between the parties in a manner which is considered “fair.”
Thus, where one spouse enjoys a higher earning capacity than the other, or may possess a significant amount of non-marital assets like an inheritance, the law may determine the other spouse should receive 55%, 60%, or in some cases, even a higher percentage of the marital assets. Likewise, the same spouse may be responsible for more of the marital debt. Other factors to be considered might be what will the division of marital assets and debts are as a whole once all assets and debts are taken into account.
Many clients also ask if marital misconduct is considered in determining what appropriate equitable distribution in divorce is. Under Pennsylvania law, the answer is generally no as most divorces are now obtained on no-fault grounds. However, there are limited exceptions. One such exception might be when one spouse can prove that the other used marital funds to finance marital misconduct and the party can prove the alleged marital misconduct occurred.
Pittsburgh divorce litigants should bear in mind that while divorce is very emotional, the equitable distribution phase of case should be approached like it is one of the largest business deals of your life. While difficult, you should try to remove all emotion and engage in negotiations based on facts and logic. You need an attorney who will understand the right strategy to employ for you as your particular situation will dictate that you approach equitable distribution in any number of ways.
If you have reached the unfortunate decision to explore divorce, contact Pittsburgh divorce lawyer, Robert Galbraith, at (724) 304-4604 to schedule a consultation and learn more about your rights.