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Pennsylvania real property and marital division

When people divorce in Pennsylvania, a part of the divorce settlement will include a division of property acquired during the marriage. Most couples jointly own a home, while some own several pieces of real estate. If a home was jointly purchased during the marriage, the spouses are considered to be "tenants in the entirety" of the property sharing equal rights in it.

The court may deal with real property acquired during the marriage in a few different ways. The court may divide the home between the parties according to their relative incomes and economic circumstances. If the home is not divided by the courts or the parties, the ownership interests of both spouses will change to tenants in common.

In some circumstances, if one party is awarded the right to live in the home, he or she may have to reimburse the other for a portion of their interest in the property. For real property that was acquired by one party during the marriage as a gift or as an inheritance, the real property will not be subject to division and will be considered as separate property from the marital estate. For marital real property, courts may also order the parties to sell it within a specified time frame and split the sale proceeds if neither will stay in the home.

When divorcing couples have significant assets including real estate holdings, the division of property can be quite complex. In complex property divisions, it can be difficult to determine an equitable division of property without the help of an attorney. For many people, the family home represents the single largest asset owned by both, and determining a fair method to divide it between the spouses can be hard, especially if both wish to retain their interests in it.

Source: Pennsylvania Bar Association , "Divorce & Separation", October 18, 2014

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