During divorce proceedings it is customary for spouses to engage in equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is the process of dividing assets and debts acquired and shared during the marriage. Often both parties cannot agree on how to divide the property. One party might argue his or her spouse is not entitled to particular property because it is separate or personal property and not marital property.
Generally, any property obtained or acquired before the marriage is considered personal property. However, there is certain property, including inheritance or a gift, which despite being acquired during the marriage is considered personal property.
The determination of property as personal or marital is extremely complex, especially when parties have been married for a considerable length of time. It is highly recommended to consult an experienced divorce attorney when dividing assets and debts.
Chester County Divorce and Personal Property Attorney
Divorce can be emotionally and financially devastating for both spouses. Allow the experienced attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices to assist you during this difficult time. The team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices will use their combined experience in divorce, equitable distribution, and dissolution of marital property to achieve the best possible results in your case.
Call (610) 692-8700 or send an online message for a free consultation so we can act as soon as possible. We are based in West Chester PA and serve clients throughout Chester County, Lancaster County and suburban Philadelphia including West Chester, Kennett Square, Oxford, Avondale, Landenberg, West Grove, Paoli, Malvern, Downingtown, Coatesville, Exton, Parkesburg, Berwyn and Devon. We have convenient meeting locations in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, and Radnor. Our family lawyers serve those with immediate legal needs in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
Pennsylvania Personal Property Resource Center
- What is personal property?
- Is all property in my name personal property?
- Are retirement accounts personal or marital property?
Personal Property Definition
Under Pennsylvania law any property acquired before the date or marriage and after the date of separation is considered personal property. Ordinarily, any property acquired after the date of marriage and before the date of separation is considered marital property. However, there is certain property that despite acquisition during the marriage is still considered personal property.
The following property is considered personal property:
- Property acquired before the marriage;
- Property acquired after the date of separation;
- Inheritances and gifts received during the marriage;
- Property excluded from the marital estate by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement;
- Payment or award received from settlement or action which accrued before the date of marriage;
- Payment or award received from settlement or action which accrued after the date of separation; and
- Certain veteran benefits
Property in One Spouse’s Name
Pennsylvania is not a community property state. This means that property acquired during the marriage is considered marital property, even if it is in the name of one spouse. As earlier mentioned, parties may exclude certain property from the marital estate by a property agreement entered before, during, or after the marriage. However, having a property in one name is not sufficient for one party to claim the property as his or her personal property.
It is presumed that property acquired during the marriage is martial property. So, if one party wants to exclude certain property from the marital estate because it is in his or her name only, he or she must provide evidence that the property was acquired in one of the aforementioned ways (i.e. inheritance, gift from someone other than the spouse, etc.).
The determination of whether a retirement account constitutes personal or marital property is complex. Retirement accounts can be both personal and martial property at the same time. It greatly depends on the type of retirement account a spouse has. Retirement accounts are divided into two types—either deferred distribution account or defined benefit account.
In addition to the type of account, the court also considers the numbers of months the earning spouse worked to gain said retirement benefit, the number of months the retirement benefit accrued, and enhancements made to the retirement account. To ensure parties are allocated the proper portion of the retirement account, both spouses should consult an attorney experienced in the division of retirement accounts.
Divorce and Personal Property Attorney in Pennsylvania
Regardless of the reasons for divorce, the actual process can take a serious emotional and financial toll on both spouses. Allow the experienced attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices to help you navigate through the convoluted process of dividing marital and personal property. The team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices will use their combined experience to help you become financially whole after a divorce.
We proudly represent clients throughout West Chester, Downingtown, Coatesville, Lancaster, Lititz, Ephrata, Norristown, Villanova, King of Prussia, Media, Philadelphia, and surrounding areas. Call us today at Ciccarelli Law Offices or send an online message for a free consultation.