Family Law – Equitable Distribution of Property


Before a divorce decree will be issued, the court requires that the individuals involved equitably divide their marital assets and liabilities. This can either be done outside of court via a Marriage Settlement Agreement (MSA) or with the assistance of the court through litigation.

The court will apply the following factors to your divorce case in order to reach an equitable distribution of your marital estate.  These factors are also used in the negotiation of your divorce settlement. Keep in mind that under PA law, the court does not automatically split everything 50-50; rather, it makes an equitable distribution by applying these factors:

  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.
  11. The federal, state and local tax ramifications associated with each asset to be divided, distributed or assigned and which ramifications need not be immediate and certain.
  12. The expense of sale, transfer or liquidation associated with a particular asset, and which expense need not be immediate and certain.
  13. Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.

The distribution of marital assets and liabilities requires the knowledge and advanced negotiation skills of certain tax consequences throughout the divorce process. With a unique blend of backgrounds in general litigation, accounting and family law, the Family Law team at Burns White is well positioned to guide you through this process and be your best advocate, providing you with a fair and informed assessment of your assets.