How Do You Determine What’s Community and Non-Community Property?
As you begin working through your divorce, you may be wondering how your property will be divided. In Pennsylvania, property in a divorce is categorized in two ways: marital property and non-marital property. Knowing the difference between these two can save you time and will give our legal team insight into how to move forward with your case.
Also called separate property or non-community property, this is property that was acquired before the marriage, or property acquired during the marriage as a gift or inheritance of an individual spouse. Generally, this property will not be divided during your divorce because it is solely owned by one spouse. The following are some examples of non-marital property:
- Property that one of you owned before marriage
- Gifts received by one spouse, regardless of whether it was acquired before or during the marriage
- Assets that both of you have agreed to be owned by only one of you
Because each of these examples of property is only legally owned by one spouse, it will generally not be divided during a divorce. On the other hand, marital property will need to be equitably and fairly divided.
Otherwise known as community property, marital property includes property acquired or earned during the marriage. In Pennsylvania, the court assumes that any property you acquire during marriage is marital property; if you want to keep an asset out of property division, then you will have to show the court why it should be characterized as non-marital property. Remember that “property” doesn’t only mean the physical location in which you live. In addition to your house or land, community property can also be businesses, vehicles, furniture, savings or retirement accounts, or any debts you may have collectively incurred.
Under Pennsylvania law, the court considers several factors in deciding how to split marital property with fairness. These factors include the length of your marriage, the amount of marital property, and how each of you contributed to the acquisition and improvement of the property. Courts also consider each spouse’s age, health, income sources, and other factors. To ensure your property is divided fairly and your rights protected during the process, hire our firm — Smith Law — as soon as you know you need help.