Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. This means that your divorce is going to result in the division of assets that is deemed by you and your spouse, or the judge, if an agreement can’t be reached, to be fair. This doesn’t, however, mean that the division of assets is going to be equal. In fact, often it’s not. That’s why many Pennsylvanians find themselves in a heated dispute when they’re going through the property division process.
Because there can be so much conflict involved in the process, you might be tempted to rush toward resolution. But there are a lot of missteps that can be made when you move too quickly through the process. That’s why you should take the time needed to slow down and find ways to avoid these common mistakes:
- Inadequately identifying marital assets: Only those assets that are deemed marital in nature will be divided during the marriage dissolution process. So, if you want to ensure that you obtain your fair share of the marital estate, you’ll have to include all marital assets in the process.
That’s easier said than done in many instances, though, because spouses often claim that certain assets are individually owned or assets are hidden. Therefore, before moving forward with settlement negotiations, have a firm grasp on what’s in play. An attorney may be able to help you thoroughly analyze these assets so that you can develop a strategy that works for you.
- Improperly valuating key assets: You may not know the value of many of your biggest assets. This could include a family business, artwork, heirloom jewelry or a vacation home. Before discussing how these assets should be divided, you should make sure that you have a firm understanding of their value. This might require you to secure an expert’s assistance in properly valuing the assets, but you don’t want to skip this step otherwise you could lose out on significant financial resources that you need post-divorce.
- Keeping your name on a liability: Many of the assets that you end up dividing during divorce have debt tied to them. A family home, a family business, and vehicles are perfect examples. If your spouse ends up taking these assets, you need to make sure that your name is taken off of them. If it’s not, you could be on the hook for payments if your spouse doesn’t keep up with debts owed.
- Failing to properly consider your expenses: Your life is going to change pretty significantly once your divorce is finalized. You may be going from a two-income household to a single-income home, and your debts may be more than you anticipated. You need to have a solid understanding of your financial position prior to entering the property division process, as only then can you know what you need once everything is said and done.
Do you need an attorney by your side?
Divorce is a major financial transaction and mishandling it can leave you facing significant and undeserved hardship once your marriage dissolution is finalized. To protect your interests, you may want someone in your corner who can help you adequately analyze your circumstances and craft appropriate legal arguments.
Although you have a lot of options when it comes to choosing an attorney to help you in that regard, not all family law firms are created equally. Therefore, if you want to find the advocate who is right for you, you might want to thoroughly research your options and speak with those who you think would be a good fit for you and your situation.