Pennsylvania couples may find that a divorce requires a great deal of planning when it comes to deciding on how to split their property. Because both spouses have ownership rights of the assets they acquired together during a marriage, a tedious and potentially disagreeable quarrel may arise over who keeps a shared property. When two individuals cannot come to an agreement on their own, the decision falls to a family court judge. 

Without sufficient input from the divorcing couple, a family judge may decide to split their assets and property by what he or she considers fair. Under Pennsylvania’s equitable distribution laws, the property division process only requires that a judge apply fairness rather than equality when deciding who takes sole ownership of a particular property. 

How a judge divides property  

Factors that may affect a judge’s decision include the couple’s children, how much income each individual makes and if he or she can continue to maintain the property. As noted by Reader’s Digest, a judge may also consider personal factors such as how long the marriage lasted, each individual’s age and individual health. 

When a Keystone State judge makes a final decision for dividing assets and property, it may result in bitter feelings toward the entire divorce process. Anger, resentment and stress may then transfer to the children and affect their relationship with parents who are no longer living together. 

How collaborative divorce works 

To prevent tension from escalating, more couples find themselves dissolving their marriage amicably through the collaborative divorce process, as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. After the passage of the Pennsylvania Collaborative Law Act in 2018, couples may now legally decide by themselves how to finalize their divorce instead of relying on a judge’s decision. 

With legal representation, individuals meet as many times as necessary to discuss how to dissolve their marriage on their own terms. Couples dissolving their marriage through collaborative law may negotiate property division, child custody matters and financial support issues without a need for a judge’s determination.