When Pennsylvania couples divorce, the emotional stakes are often high. For those who are going through a high-asset divorce, the financial stakes pose an additional layer of stress and can involve hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as property. Determining how to equitably divide assets in such a case can be complicated and daunting.
If couples are unable to agree on how they will divide their property, courts will conduct an equitable property division. Property that is subject to division is the property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, excluding property obtained as a gift or inheritance as well as separate property each individual owned prior to the marriage.
People may be unaware that the amount of increase in retirement accounts that accrues during a marriage is also subject to division. Additionally, investment accounts, bank accounts and property holdings acquired during the marriage are subject to division in the final divorce hearing. An antenuptial agreement is one way for couples to protect themselves prior to marriage, but if such an agreement was not signed, the court will divide all marital property according to the relative incomes of the parties.
Determining how to divide assets in a complex high-asset case can be tricky. Courts mandate that both parties provide the other with complete schedules showing income sources and assets in order to make the determination. Individuals should not attempt to hide assets or income sources, as doing so can subject them to possible contempt proceedings down the road. When people are going through a high-asset divorce, it may be in their best interests to speak with a family law attorney who can assist them in drafting a reasonable property division plan.
Source: Pennsylvania Bar Association , “Divorce & Separation“, October 20, 2014