Lose the Spouse, Keep the House
Divorcing is tougher when high worth is involved. Let’s be honest: no one wants to give up the things they’ve worked hard to obtain to their ex. Your house, property, money, cars, and other valuables could be up for grabs in the divorce.
It’s a scary reality, but the bright side is that Pennsylvania does not split marital property 50/50. Each spouse gets a portion of the marital assets based on his or her unique situation. So you could end up keeping full ownership of the house, but this could make the task of deciding who gets what more stressful.
Although having a pre- or postnuptial agreement is the best way to protect your property, there is still hope for you to come out victorious on the other side if you don’t have one. And hiring a Montco high-value divorce attorney is the best way to do so.
How Does Pennsylvania Divide Marital Assets?
Pennsylvania uses a standard called “equitable distribution”—what is intended to be a “fair” division of your community or marital property. Remember, even personal property purchased during a marriage is considered marital. For example, if your spouse bought you jewelry, it is still considered marital property and will be included in the equitable distribution of your divorce.
There are many factors a judge will look at when deciding which spouse gets which property, like:
- How long the marriage lasted
- How old each spouse is
- How mentally healthy the spouses are
- How much money/income/worth each spouse has
- How each spouse makes his or her money
- How each spouse contributed to the other (for example, if the wife supported the husband while he was attending grad school)
- What benefits & insurance the spouses have
- Whether one spouse cared for the house/family instead of working outside the home
- The current standard of living for each spouse (and any children)
- How the tax consequences will follow the distribution of assets
- Who will be getting primary custody of the children
How to Set Your Divorce Attorney Up for Success
If you’re looking at a divorce, the first task on your to-do list will be to make a list of all of your assets. This includes bank accounts, businesses, real estate, cars, jewelry, etc.—basically, anything of value that you own, so your attorney can get the full scope of what everything is worth.
Next, you will need to prioritize this list. What’s most important to you? What can you compromise on? What will you be okay with losing? Prioritizing will make it easier for you and your lawyer to figure out what to fight for. Don’t get greedy or spiteful with this step. Put anger aside and really think about what would hurt you the most if you lost it. The items you’re okay with losing can be used as a tool for compromise. For example, if you have three cars, you might be okay with giving two of them away if it means you get to keep the summer home in Hawaii.
If you started a business with your partner, or if they put a lot of work into the business throughout the marriage, they will be entitled to a percentage of the business. The worth of the business will have to be determined as well, since any profits will count towards the yearly income you both bring in as a couple. From there, it will be decided how or if the business will continue after the divorce. This adds another layer of difficulty, so choose an attorney with experience in business valuations.
Do your research, and don’t get caught up in gimmicks or go with the cheapest option. We know this is a very serious and stressful time for you, and the last thing you need to be worrying about is whether your lawyer is doing her job diligently. The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., has over 25 years of experience handling high-value divorce cases in the Main Line area. We strive hard to help our clients reach the best possible outcome and maintain their lifestyle. Call (610) 645-0100 to set up a free consultation today.