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If I don’t live in a community property state, how will the marital property be divided?

All states differ in their exact division of property, so a hard and fast rule cannot be given, but generally marital property will be divided "equitably." You may also hear the term "equitable distribution," which means the same thing as "divided equitably."

Examples of principles used by the court in an equitable distribution state are as follows:

Pennsylvania is an "equitable distribution" state. Separate property that is (1) acquired prior to the marriage; (2) acquired in exchange for any separate property; (3) any gifts and inheritances; and (4) any property designated as separate in a valid agreement between the spouses, will be retained by the spouse owning it. All other marital property will be divided equitably, without regard to any marital misconduct, based on the following factors: (1) the contribution or dissipation of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker; (2) the age and health of the spouses; (3) the sources of income of the spouses; (4) the value of each spouse’s property; (5) the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective; (6) the length of the marriage; (7) the tax consequences to each spouse; (8) the occupation of the spouses; (9) the amount and sources of income of the spouses, including retirement and any other benefits; (10) the vocational skills of the spouses; (11) the employability of the spouses; (12) the liabilities and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income; (13) the standard of living established during the marriage; (14) any contributions toward the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse; (15) any prior marital obligations; and (16) whether the person will have custody of any dependent minor children. The court may require a spouse purchase or maintain life insurance and name the other spouse as beneficiary. Both spouses will be required to submit an inventory and appraisal of their property. [Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated, Title 23, Sections 3501 and 3502].