Allentown Property Division Attorney
Protect Your Family, Future & Financial Security
In a divorce action, often one of the most contentious issues is the division of marital assets. In Pennsylvania, the assets are not simply divided 50/50 between the husband and wife, but rather are equitably divided. Equitable distribution is the process by which the court considers eleven factors in determining how to fairly (but not necessarily equally) divide assets among divorcing spouses.
These factors include:
- Prior marriages
- Length of the marriage
- Standard of living established by both parties during the marriage
- Whether a party will be serving as a custodian for any dependents
- Contributions made to the education or earning potential of either party
- The economic circumstances each party will be left in after the division of property
- The contributions (or lack thereof) of each party to the marital home
- Age, health, workforce skills, amount and source of income
- Value of each party's property
- Sources of income, including retirement funds and other benefits
- Future earning power of each party
What You May Not Know About Equitable Distribution
By law, none of the eleven factors are supposed to be given greater weight than the others. However, of the eleven factors, employment and earning potential are certainly two of the most important. Additionally, the age, health, contributions to the marriage and non-marital assets of either party may be just as important to the court.
Of the eleven factors, the only mention of marital misconduct is that the court may not consider it when determining the distribution of the marital assets. Additionally, most people going through a divorce for the first time are surprised to learn that equitable distribution means that the party that earned the higher income during the marriage may get less, and sometimes significantly less, than fifty percent of the marital assets. An experienced Allentown attorney will want to get involved in the process early on and attempt to work out the division of assets prior to filing the divorce action.
Property Settlement Agreements
When dealing with a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) it is important to seek advice from a lawyer before signing anything. Often times, a spouse consciously decided to proceed without counsel because of the mistaken belief that all of the important terms of the PSA had been pre-agreed.
However, they failed to realize that the terms of the PSA, which were assumed to be “just a bunch of legalese,” represented important legal rights that they were either foregoing or conveying outright to their spouse.
For example, a PSA often contains
- Tax language
- Life insurance terms
- Alimony terms
- Child support terms
When added up, these terms may impose a requirement to pay substantial portions of the spouse’s net pay, as much as 65% or more, to the other spouse. This requirement may even be in addition to agreeing to convey substantial marital assets, like a house or bank accounts, to the opposing spouse.
To compound the problem, financial terms are often accompanied by defined time periods for when they must be met, or risk the imposition of a contempt citation. Although such terms might be fair in certain cases, the fact is, when a spouse enters into a PSA without the benefit of an attorney they are essentially flying blind.
Another potential problem associated with entering into a PSA without counsel is not sufficiently being provided with a full disclosure of your spouse’s assets. Independent of the PSA, if there are children from the marriage, you should have an equitable distribution lawyer. The lawyer will work with you in securing appropriate arrangements for the children including:
- Holiday schedules
- Weekend visits
- Health needs
- Religious observances
- School concerns.
Marital Asset Division Attorney in Allentown
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the division of the marital assets, a hearing will be required. At the equitable distribution hearing, all appraisals, estimated valuations, income, business valuations, other marital and non-marital assets, and all other relevant information will be submitted to the master in order to equitably divide the marital assets. This is a process that is filled with deadlines and rules, and also the stage where the legal bills add up.
Whenever it best serves our clients to avoid the hassle and expense of litigation, our Allentown lawyer at Regan Law Firm negotiates in his clients’ best interests to reach an out-of-court settlement on the division of the marital assets. However, when this cannot yield a fair resolution, Attorney Kevin Regan is prepared to use his extensive trial experience to litigate the matter and pursue the outcome his clients desire.
Contact an Allentown Equitable Distribution Lawyer Today
Call the experienced Allentown equitable distribution attorney at the Regan Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation. For your convenience, we offer evening and weekend appointments and are always accessible via phone or email. We can be reached at (484) 498-6334 or you may fill out our online contact form and we will be in touch with you soon.
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