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Property Division

Pets: Divided Like Property, or Shared with Custody?

By Sheryl Rentz on February 28, 2018

Any pet owner will tell you that she views her pet as a member of the family. When couples divorce, one would expect pets to be treated the same as children, given how much they mean to their “pet parents.” In some states, like Illinois, the laws are moving in this direction. However, that is not the case in Pennsylvania. Read the rest »

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Property Division in High-Asset Divorce Cases

By Sheryl Rentz on January 19, 2015

One of the most important and complicated parts of a high-asset divorce is property division. There are many assets that both parties may want, such as businesses, cars, boats, collectibles, and furniture. There are also non-tangible items that may be coveted, such as bank accounts, trusts, stock options, patents, life insurance policies, retirement plans, and copyrights. Before you can even begin to divide these assets, you must identify them specifically, determine when the assets were acquired, and give each asset a value.

Identifying property is not as easy as it sounds. Make a list of everything you own separately and jointly. You can always remove items later. Make sure this list includes every tangible and non-tangible item you can think of that has value. Next, you will need to describe each asset as marital or non-marital. Under Pennsylvania law, all assets acquired by either spouse during marriage are considered marital property. Non-marital items may include assets acquired before marriage, assets acquired through inheritance, and assets acquired after the date of separation. Read the rest »

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What Happens to Marital Property in a Pennsylvania Divorce?

By Sheryl Rentz on April 2, 2014

During any divorce in Pennsylvania, the spouses must decide what will happen to their “marital property.”  Marital property includes nearly every item that either of the two spouses acquired during the marriage.  Often, it does not matter whose name is on the title to the property.

Marital property includes items like real estate, bank accounts, pensions, investment tools (like stocks and bonds), automobiles, and furniture.  The increase in value of any of these items during the marriage is also considered “marital property.”

Pennsylvania law requires an “equitable distribution” of marital property when a married couple decides to divorce.  “Equitable,” however, does not always mean “equal.”  It means that the property must be distributed “fairly,” based on a number of considerations.

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Posted in: Property Division

Pennsylvania Divorce—Equitable Division

By Sheryl Rentz on January 30, 2013

Property division at the end of a marriage is not always a peaceful process. Pennsylvania is an “equitable distribution state,” meaning distribution must be fair. This does not mean that property is necessarily divided equally. Property must be negotiated.

Your first instinct may not be to do direct negotiations with your marriage partner. In fact, a settlement agreement, a written document informing the Court exactly how a couple want marital property to be divided, may be impossible for the two of you to reach agreement on. If your efforts to work together to reach an agreement fails, and if certain assets remain in dispute, the Court will make the distribution according to the system of “equitable division.” Read the rest »

How the New Marriage of Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook, May Affect His Assets in a Divorce

By Sheryl Rentz on May 30, 2012

Mark Zuckerberg, the infamous founder of the popular social networking site Facebook, married his college sweetheart on May 19 in a backyard ceremony in California. The timing of the nuptials has raised some eyebrows, however, as the wedding happened a day after Facebook went public, and some are wondering if this had anything to do with the terms of a prenuptial agreement or if Zuckerberg was looking to clarify his net worth (estimated at $17 billion), according to The New York Times. Regardless of the actual reasons for the timing of the wedding, matrimonial law experts are clear that whatever the Facebook founder earned before marriage is still his property afterward.

The state of California follows community property laws, which specifically outline how property is divided between two spouses in the event of a divorce, and the general rule states that anything that was a spouse’s property before marriage is considered separate. This “property” can include things like dividends from previously owned stock or rent collected from an income-producing property owned before marriage. After a pair is married, anything either spouse acquires or earns is considered community property. Read the rest »

Sheryl R. Rentz Explains the Difference between Community and Separate Property in a Divorce

By Sheryl Rentz on May 3, 2012

Throughout the divorce process, a number of issues are sure to arise that need to be resolved before the final divorce settlement agreement is signed, such as spousal support or child custody. Family law attorney Sheryl R. Rentz has extensive experience aiding divorcing couples and understands the importance of efficiently handling any and all divorce-related issues with skill and compassion. One of the primary issues in a divorce is the division of property, and there are two different types of property for twosomes to be aware of and understand: community property and separate property. The following is essential information on each.

Community Property

An essential matter in a divorce is how to split up community property assets, which are everything that spouses own together. Pennsylvania is not a community property state, however, which means as an equitable distribution state all property acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name it is in, is part of the marital estate and is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. To fairly divide the assets, the court takes into consideration several different factors. Read the rest »

Maryland Considers Bill about Divorcing Couples and Pet Custody

By Sheryl Rentz on March 16, 2011

According to The Washington Post, a new bill has been proposed in the Maryland General Assembly Senate that will define what happens to pets when their owners divorce. With many households considered to be DINKs (duel income, no kids) these days, it is not surprising pets have become an important part of divorce proceedings.

If passed, the bill will give courts the power to grant a custody agreement for a divorcing couple’s pet. The court will also be permitted to give one party sole ownership of a pet, as well grant one party sole ownership of a pet with the other party given visitation rights on a court-approved schedule. The court will also be able to give both parties ownership of a pet and both parties can share custody on a court-determined schedule. However, the court will not be able to order either party to pay pet-related expenses to the other party. Read the rest »

Former Couple Given Solution Over Dog: Dividing Property or Sharing Custody?

By Sheryl Rentz on October 14, 2009

In a previous blog entitled, “Since When is Pet Custody Compared to Child Custody?”, we discussed an unusual case that had gone to trial for the second time over a very loved dog named Dexter. Although we usually hear about former couples or spouses going to court over custody of their children, this case is still significant in that both parties considered their dog Dexter to be like a son. And as it turns out, this case was more concerned with the issue of division of property than it was with actual custody. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Superior Court judge finally made a decision in the case to have the former couple share custody of their property, Dexter the pug, in five-week rotations. Read the rest »

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Montgomery County Divorce Attorney Disclaimer: The divorce, visitation, child support, child custody, spousal support, or other family law legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case. Please contact an attorney at our law firm office. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of Pennsylvania.

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