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How much of your property will you lose when you divorce?

If there’s one question that almost everyone has during a divorce, it’s what they will get the keep and what their spouse will get as part of the process. Unless you have a marital agreement or you negotiate your own terms for the divorce, a judge will be the one who decides who keeps what and who pays which debts.

The judge presiding over your divorce will have to look at the information you and your ex provide about your assets and personal circumstances and then apply Pennsylvania law to reach an appropriate resolution. What property do you have to worry about losing during a divorce in Pennsylvania?

Any marital property is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce

Pennsylvania law requires that judges equitably distribute your marital property when you divorce. While some people misinterpret equitable to mean equal, what it actually means is fair.

Everything from your income and the work that you do around the house to the custody of your children and how long you stayed married can affect what the judge ultimately orders in your divorce. Only marital property typically gets split up, although some couples don’t agree about what is marital and what is separate.

Typically, anything you earn while married and assets you purchase during your marriage are marital property whose value can affect how the courts divide your assets.

What property can you protect from divorce proceedings?

Other than assets marked as separate property in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with your spouse, certain other property has protection from division. Assets that you owned before you got married are usually your separate property. The same is true of inherited assets and those received as gifts from someone other than the spouse.

However, your separate property can sometimes wind up subject to division if your ex can prove commingling or that they made contributions to separate property. Commingling involves sharing access to control over separate property or making separate assets into joint accounts.

You will need to look closely at financial records from your marriage to determine what property is vulnerable to division and what you can protect as separate property in an upcoming Pennsylvania divorce.