In Pennsylvania, including Bucks County, marital property is subject to “equitable distribution.” Equitable distribution does not mean equal. Also, despite common belief, there is no presumption of a 50% – 50% distribution. The Court will consider the following factors in determining the distribution of the marital assets:
- The length of the marriage.
- Any prior marriage of either party.
- The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties.
- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
- The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
- The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker.
- The value of the property set apart to each party.
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
- The economic circumstances of each party, including Federal, State and local tax ramifications, at the time the division of property is to become effective.
- Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.
Lastly, contrary to popular belief, fault is not a consideration in the division of the property. Thus it does not matter why the marriage ended (i.e. one party had an affair or abandoned the home.) Marital misconduct could, however, become relevant in equitable distribution if one spouse dissipated assets for the benefit of the third party (such as vacations, purchase of jewelry, ect.)