Marital Property

Brian C. Vertz, ESQ, MBA is an author of “Slicing the Pie: Equitable Distribution in Pennsylvania,” a publication of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (2010). Mr. Vertz has represented clients in property division cases ranging from small marital property disputes to multi-million dollar settlements.

How does Pennsylvania define marital property?

Marital property in Pennsylvania is a legal term used to describe the property that a divorce court may divide in a process known as equitable distribution. In Pennsylvania, we say that the Divorce Code is “title-blind,” meaning that it does not matter whether property is titled in the name of the husband, the wife or both. Marital property is identified as all property acquired during the marriage, however it may be titled. There are a few specific exceptions, however. The most frequent exception is property acquired by gift or inheritance.

Is marital property different from community property?

Pennsylvania does not recognize the concept of community property, which is how married persons hold title to joint property in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. In Pennsylvania, as in most states, property which is titled jointly in the names of spouses is held as “entireties” property. Entireties property is generally exempt from the claims of creditors of the individual spouses, and it passes to the surviving spouse upon the death of the other.

What is separate property?

Property acquired prior to marriage, and property acquired by gift or inheritance, is designated as nonmarital property (or separate property). Although the divorce court has no jurisdiction to divide separate property, it is required to determine the increase or decrease in the value of separate property during the marriage. This increase in value is divided between the spouses in equitable distribution. Any decrease in value of separate property can be used to offset an increase in value of other separate property, but cannot be offset against the value of marital property.

What is double dipping in divorce?

A cutting-edge issue that arises in some divorce disputes is double dipping. Some types of marital property, such as pensions and annuities, generate a stream of income that may be viewed as property to be divided in equitable distribution or income subject to an alimony obligation – but not both. Pennsylvania is one of the leading states in ferreting out double dipping, which subjects the stream of income to multiple obligations.

Double Dipping Articles

The following links contain information about double dipping:

Double Dipping in PA: Part I

Double Dipping in PA: Part II

Double Dipping in PA: Part III

Double Dipping in PA: Part IV

Double Dipping in PA: Part V

Common Tags: No Fault Divorce, Pennsylvania Divorce Law, Equitable Distribution of Property, Prenuptial Agreements, Alimony Attorney, Distribution of Assets, Joint Property Distribution, Marital Law in Pennsylvania, PA Divorce Attorney

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