Whenever you buy groceries you use a bank card attached to a joint account you share with your soon-to-be ex. And you bring those groceries home in a car you bought together and pack them away in a fridge within a home you share. You understand that after your divorce is final, buying groceries won’t involve a joint bank account or family home. But you might question which assets you will get to keep.

Learning about equitable distribution and how separate property fits into property division can leave out some of the mystery.

Equitable distribution of marital property

Courts in Pennsylvania view marital property as all assets you and your spouse collected within the duration of your marriage. Some typical examples of marital property include the family home you bought together and income both of you earned while you were married. It also includes shared bank accounts, retirement accounts and other investments. All assets that fit under the marital property category are subject to division. And the way a judge splits this property between each spouse during divorce is known as equitable distribution.

Through equitable distribution, a judge aims to be as fair as possible when they grant each party a portion of the assets they once shared. Rather than receiving exactly half of your joint property, the judge will review the lifestyle you led during marriage to create an appropriate division. The court may also consider the length of the marriage, the employability of each spouse and who will have custody of children after divorce.

Separate property

It’s important to understand that separate property is not subject to division. Separate property includes property you owned before you were married. You can also acquire separate property through marriage in the form of gifts and inheritances.

Although fairness is at the center of property division in Pennsylvania, having to separate your finances from your ex is difficult to navigate on your own. But a divorce attorney can help guide you through listing all the assets you share with your ex and property that belongs solely to you. From there, you can work toward a settlement that you deserve.