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Does the Length of My Marriage Affect My Pennsylvania Divorce?

Published: Aug 26, 2019 in Divorce, Legal Blog
divorce property

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

Divorce in Pennsylvania can be an emotionally draining, legally complicated process. It may ease some of the strain when you understand some of the basic concepts and have a general idea of what to expect. One of the key issues you’ll address is how to divide up the property you acquired during your marriage. It’s a common assumption that the length of the marriage is a primary factor, but there are numerous considerations a court looks at in making the determination. The duration of your marital relationship is just a part of the bigger picture when divvying up assets.

Because Pennsylvania’s divorce laws on property division are so complex, it’s smart to rely on a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer to guide you through the process. At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we can advise you on the laws and represent you in connection with asset distribution. We’re also prepared to assist you in negotiating an agreement, which provides multiple benefits for divorcing couples. Call (412) 471-5100 to set up a consultation.

Pennsylvania’s Statute on Property Division

State divorce laws require an equitable division of marital assets, which starts by categorizing property as marital or separate. The general rule is that anything acquired during the marriage is subject to distribution; items owned before the wedding belong to the respective parties. From there, the judge will distribute property according to what’s fair for each individual. The statute includes multiple factors for the judge to consider, including the length of the marriage.

However, there are additional factors a divorce court considers in assessing fairness, including:

  • Age;
  • Physical health;
  • Wages and other sources of income;
  • Contributions to the marriage, which may be measured by a value other than dollar amount;
  • Standard of living established during the marriage; and,
  • Who will have residential custody of minor children.

Equitable Distribution in Pennsylvania

From the above, you may see a common theme. Many of these factors relate to how well each party can be self-sufficient, which is why the length of the marriage is an important consideration. In some situations, one spouse may be out of the workforce for several years of the relationship to support the household. These efforts have value beyond a dollar amount, but they don’t always translate well in the context of employability. After divorce, one spouse could endure financial hardship and not experience the same lifestyle as during the marriage.

Pennsylvania divorce laws are partly intended to make up for this discrepancy through an equitable division of assets. That means serving the interests of equity could lead to a distribution that’s not exactly 50-50, to account for what one party gave up for the household.

Agreements Regarding Marital Property

Despite the factors involved with the equitable distribution of marital assets, the statute is flexible. Parties to a Pennsylvania divorce can settle the division of property by agreement, avoiding the rigid rules imposed by law. You and your soon-to-be-ex can negotiate an arrangement that’s acceptable to you both instead of having a judge decide. An agreement may not be appropriate in certain situations and the court will still review the terms. Plus, it’s still essential to retain a lawyer for negotiations, writing up the agreement, and entering the order. However, you have more control over your divorce, and you can save time and money by not going through a hearing.

Discuss Property Division with a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney

Hopefully, this helps you understand how the length of marriage impacts divorce in Pennsylvania. However, there are many additional issues and subtleties that can be complicated if you don’t have a legal background. To learn how state laws apply to your specific situation, contact Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC by calling (412) 471-5100. We can schedule a consultation with a skilled divorce lawyer who can advise you on property division and related matters.