Cherished personal property might lead to divorce deadlock

When it comes to defining the marital estate, some couples are quarreling even over freebies like frequent flyer miles. However, considering the emotional strain that a contention divorce proceeding can impose, a free round trip ticket to an exotic destination might be just the thing to start fresh. Unfortunately, it may not come without a fight.

However, valuation issues are not limited to reward programs. Personal property items, especially valuables like art, musical instruments, jewelry or collectible antiques might also become the subject of hotly contested property division disputes. Although a spouse may request an appraisal and seek monetary compensation for his or her share of an item, Pennsylvania family law courts do not necessarily split assets down the line. Rather, under the state’s equitable division standard, additional factors might be considered.

For example, one such equitable factor might be personal property that was selected and purchased exclusively by one spouse. In other words, if both spouses did not participate in acquiring the asset, a court might agree that both spouses might not have an equal claim to it. Additional factors might include whether both spouses worked, and the contributions each made during the marriage to mortgage payments and other expenses.

The same equitable approach might also applied to marital debts. For spouses with unequal incomes, this approach might be likened to America’s progressive tax structure, where a larger taxable base might put an individual into a higher tax bracket, or rate. Such an approach slightly accounts for an individual’s relative ability to pay, based on his or her income.

Source: forbes.com, “Divorce: Who Gets The Air Miles?” Jeff Landers, June 26, 2013