Are Gifts Included in the Division of Property During a Pennsylvania Divorce?

couple speaking with divorce lawyer

There is an abundance of factors that need to be considered when determining how the division of property will go during a divorce. If you and your spouse have been together for years and years, your assets probably overlap in complicated and varying ways. Most assets acquired during marriage will be split in some way. However, what will happen to the gifts or inheritance you received over the years? Are gifts qualifying assets for the division of property? Continue reading and contact a York County, PA property division attorney for more information.

Is Pennsylvania an Equitable Distribution State?

Yes, Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. Some states are considered a community property state, also known as a 50/50 state. In the event of a divorce in these states, each spouse receives exactly half of the marital property. The specific circumstances of the divorce are not considered and each party walks away with 50% of the assets. In an equitable distribution state, assets are distributed in a way that is fair but maybe not equal. The goal of this is to allow each spouse to maintain their lifestyle and compensate for any disparities in earning capacity.

What is Marital Property?

Knowing the difference between marital property and individual property is the first step in determining how assets will be distributed during a divorce. Marital property refers to any property acquired during the marriage, by either spouse. In Pennsylvania, this includes any increase in the value of property.

Property owned by one spouse before the marriage is considered separate property. However, if the other spouse contributed at all to the property whether financially or otherwise, a court may decide that it is considered jointly owned. Examples of marital property include family homes, cars, cash, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vacation properties, stocks, and bonds.

An example of separate property that could transition to marital property would be if one spouse owned a house before marriage and during the marriage, the other spouse contributed financially to the house or with maintenance and upkeep.

Are Gifts Subject to Division in Divorce?

This is a complex question. The real answer is sometimes. Gifts and inheritance can be subject to division during divorce, but they are not always. It depends on whether the gift is considered marital property or not by the court.

According to Pennsylvania state law, gifts do not constitute marital property. However, this is not always true. Gifts and inheritance can transition from separate property to marital property in the same way that a separately owned house can grow to be considered joint.

If one spouse received inheritance money from a family member, that money is considered individually owned. However, depending on how the money was used it could be considered joint. If the couple used that money to purchase a home, for example, the home would be joint property.

Whether or not your specific gifts are eligible for distribution during your divorce will largely depend upon the details of your circumstances and relationship. Work with an experienced lawyer for assistance.

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