Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state; i.e., there is no presumption of 50/50 - marital assets and liabilities are distributed in accordance with principles of fairness.
The marital estate consists of both the marital assets and the marital debt.
What are marital assets? Marital assets are anything and everything that came into the marriage during the course of the marriage, no matter in whose name the asset is titled.
Marital assets may include, among other things, real estate; personal property; gifts between spouses; gifts to both spouses from a third party (typically, the parents of one or the other spouse); retirement benefits (pension plans, 401Ks, IRAs, annuities, etc.); cash and cash equivalents (stocks, bonds, bank accounts, etc.); and motor vehicles.
What parties to a divorce often tend to overlook is that liabilities must also be included as part of the equitable distribution process; i.e., debts incurred during the marriage, no matter in whose name the debt is incurred, are marital and must also be considered when dividing the marital estate between the parties equitably.
Typically, the debt '‘follows' the asset; thus, if one of the parties receives an automobile as part of equitable distribution, that party typically also assumes responsibility for the loan secured by the vehicle.
Property Settlement Agreement:
Parties to a divorce are encouraged to try to work together to accomplish equitable distribution of the marital estate. It is advisable, at a minimum, for each party to consult with legal counsel so that the resulting property settlement agreement is in fact fair and equitable. One, or both, of the parties may wish to employ the services of a Certified Divorce Planner to help in a determination of the short- and long-term financial effects of the various property distribution scenarios being considered by the parties.