West Chester Attorney Explains and Negotiates Equitable Distribution & Property Division
Helping divorcing clients reach a fair division of assets
At Morton Family Law, LLC we understand that the concept of equitable distribution is one of the most misunderstood aspects of divorce. Our goal is to help you understand the concept and then decide on the belongings you value most. Once you've decided which items are most important to you, we can utilize that information to negotiate a better settlement or advocate for your interests in court.
In every divorce proceeding, property must be divided between the soon-to-be former spouses. In Pennsylvania, the standard for this division is equitable distribution. But it's important to understand that equitable does not mean equal in this context. In equitable distribution, a couple's property must be divided fairly, which is not necessarily equally. In West Chester, a divorce lawyer with Morton Family Law can help you negotiate a fair property settlement that protects the items you consider most valuable.
How is property divided in a divorce?
When a couple divorces, marital assets and debts must be divided. Assets include personal property, such as furniture, jewelry, cars, and real estate, which generally includes the family home. All property and debts are divided into two categories: marital and nonmarital. Marital property and debt is typically that which was acquired during the course of the marriage. Except for inheritances and gifts, property acquired during the marriage is subject to equitable division and distribution. Property and debts that were acquired prior to the marriage or acquired after the marriage was dissolved are usually considered separate property and, as such, are not part of equitable distribution in most circumstances. To determine what constitutes a fair distribution, the courts consider many factors, including:
- Length of the marriage
- Existence of prior marriages
- The contribution of one party to the educational or professional development of the other
- The value of each spouse's individual property
- The standard of living established during the marriage
Additionally, a well-drafted prenuptial agreement can determine whether property is separate or marital for equitable distribution.
How can I reach a fair property settlement agreement?
Property can be divided through either a judicial or nonjudicial process. A property settlement agreement (PSA), sometimes called a marital settlement agreement (MSA), is the final agreement that divides your marital assets, sets forth child custody arrangements, and establishes alimony and child support. This agreement can be reached through mediation or arbitration or in family law court. It is almost always better to reach an agreement with your spouse through negotiation or arbitration than by a judge's edict because both parties gain more control over their future. At the end of your divorce, your PSA is incorporated into the final divorce decree.
Work with an experienced West Chester attorney to protect your property through your divorce
Morton Family Law, LLC takes a balanced approach to equitable distribution and all divorce issues. To protect the things that are important to you, contact our office at 888-698-1787 or online.