Many Pennsylvania couples who are planning on getting married opt to negotiate a prenuptial agreement prior to tying the knot. This type of agreement protects separate property in the event that the couple decides to get a divorce later on. However, not all couples chose to sign a prenuptial agreement, and while these agreements are often recommended, there are other ways that individuals can protect their separate assets.
When many couples get married, they combine their assets that had been separately owned. However, when they do this, the assets become commingled and will most likely be subject to division by the court should the couple get a divorce. In order to avoid this, it is recommended that couples keep their previously-owned assets completely separate after they get married. Additionally, separate funds should be used to pay for the maintenance of any separate property, which makes it easier for judges to determine what property should be excluded from property division in the event of a subsequent divorce.
Both parties should seek a valuation of their separately-owned businesses or other personal assets in advance of the wedding. They should also keep copies of retirement fund statements showing the balances at the time of marriage. This way, the judge can order that the initial amount be carved off before the remaining amount is divided between former spouses.
The division of assets during a divorce can often be contentious. Because Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, the court will base its determination on the basis of what it believes to be fair. In some cases, a divorcing couple may be able to, with the assistance of their separately-retained family law attorneys, negotiate a settlement agreement that the court will approve.