Thank you for your patience.
Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. Equitable distribution means a "fair", not equal division of marital property. Marital property includes all property that was acquired during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled (in whose name it is). Gifts from one spouse to another are marital property if they were purchased with marital funds. Generally gifts and inheritances that a spouse receives during the marriage belong to that spouse. Pensions and business interests that were developed by one spouse are considered marital property if they were acquired during the marriage. Marital property in Pennsylvania is defined by section 3501 of the PA Statutes as:
(a) General rule.-As used in this chapter, "marital property" means all property acquired by either party during the marriage, including the increase in value, prior to the date of final separation, of any nonmarital property acquired pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (3), except:
(1) Property acquired prior to marriage or property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.
(3) Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent.
23 Pa. C.S.A. s 3501(a).
Furthermore, the factors to be considered, and the impact of marital misconduct on the equitable distribution is addressed as follows:
Equitable division of marital property is defined by statute 3502:
(a) General rule.-In an action for divorce or annulment, the court shall, upon request of either party, equitably divide, distribute or assign, in kind or otherwise, the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct in such proportions and in such manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors, including:
- The length of the marriage.
- Any prior marriage of either party.
- The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties.
- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
- The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
- 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.
- The value of the property set apart to each party.
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
- The economic circumstances of each party, including Federal, State and local tax ramifications, at the time the division of property is to become effective.
- Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.
23 Pa. C.S.A. s 3502(a)(emphasis added).
In short, the court is going to look at the assets and liabilities of the marriage, and throw them into a big "pot", and distribute in a fair manner. In your case, with a long marriage, both parties working, etc... there's a very good chance that it will be an equal or near equal distribution. Now that means if your spouse gets the house, you're going to get an equivalent amount of money or other assets (or at least a payment or promise of payment from your spouse) to compensate for your share of the house that is now going to be his. The point is that after all is said and done, that you're both going to be in relatively equal positions. If you can agree to the things that you distribute, that's better than having a court do it. But now you know what the court would consider, and he couldn't claim more if earned more, etc... (as those earnings would have been marital property anyway).
Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable.
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