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Home / Division of Property in a Pennsylvania Divorce

Division of Property in a Pennsylvania Divorce

Pennsylvania follows the principles of equitable distribution when dividing marital property in a divorce. Unlike community property states that divide assets and debts acquired during the marriage equally, Pennsylvania courts aim for a fair, but not necessarily equal, distribution based on the circumstances of each case.

Key Principles

  • Equitable Distribution: The process involves dividing assets and debts acquired during the marriage between the spouses in a manner deemed fair by the court. It's important to note that "equitable" does not always mean "equal."
  • Marital vs. Non-Marital Property:
    • Marital Property: Generally includes all assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, up to the date of separation.
    • Non-Marital Property: Encompasses assets and debts owned prior to the marriage, gifts or inheritances received individually during the marriage, and certain types of personal injury awards, as well as any property agreed upon as separate in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Factors Considered in Property Division


Identification: The first step is determining which assets and debts are considered marital and which are non-marital.


Valuation: Once identified, the next step is to establish the value of the marital property to ensure a fair distribution.


Distribution: The court then divides the marital property equitably among the spouses, taking into account a range of factors, including:

  • 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.
  • The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
  • The sources of income of both parties, including 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 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.

Special Considerations

  • Retirement Accounts and Pensions: Considered marital property to the extent that they were acquired or appreciated in value during the marriage and subject to equitable distribution.
  • Businesses and Professional Practices: Valuation and division can be complex, often requiring expert appraisals to ensure a fair distribution.
  • Debts: Marital debts are divided between the spouses in a manner deemed equitable, considering who incurred the debt and why.
  • Real Estate: Decisions regarding real estate include whether to sell and divide proceeds, one spouse buying out the other, or other arrangements that the court deems fair.


The division of property in a Pennsylvania divorce is guided by the principle of equitable distribution, focusing on a fair division of marital assets and liabilities. This complex process takes into account numerous factors to ensure a distribution that considers the financial and personal contributions of both spouses to the marriage.

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