Deciding on who gets what assets can be the most challenging and contentious ordeal during a divorce. While dividing items like vehicles, bank accounts, and the family home may follow general rules, other assets can be more complex. This is especially true if the couple shares a vacation home. Often, a family’s vacation home is a major asset.
In Pennsylvania, equitable distribution applies. It is when the couple’s shared property is split equitably according to different factors, such as each partner’s needs, who handled the finances, and so forth. This applies only to the couple’s marital property purchased. It does not apply to property owned before the marriage.
A shared vacation home is subject to the rules of division that would apply to other shared properties. Deciding on who gets to keep the vacation home largely depends on what the couple can and cannot agree upon:
- Buying out the other: The couple’s lawyers could negotiate a fair agreement if discussing how to split the assets becomes hostile. In this scenario, one partner could receive the home while the other takes additional assets like more money.
- Selling the home: If one partner does not want to keep the vacation home, the house could be liquidated and sold. The money from the sale would be easier to negotiate in the divorce.
- Sharing the home: Both partners may agree to share the vacation home, especially if they struggle with who gets it. The couple could plan alternating visits during the year, such as one partner getting it for three months and then the other calling it for the next. This requires constant communication and careful planning, so generally, the divorce must be amicable.
- The court: If the vacation home is considered marital property and cannot decide who receives it, then the court may have to determine how it and other marital assets get distributed. The court may order the couple to sell the home and split the money from the sale.
- Inherited: One of the partners possibly inherited the vacation house before the marriage and did not put the other partner’s name on the deed. The inheritor will likely keep the property unless the other spouse can prove they contributed to its preservation.
What Factors Are Considering When Splitting Shared Property?
Factors in splitting shared property include:
- The child custody agreement if there are children.
- The home’s market value.
- The home’s current value, including debt.
- How long the couple has been married.
- The physical condition of each partner, including health and age.
- The economic circumstances of each partner, such as job status.
- The economic contribution of each partner.
- The tax consequences.
Vacation homes can be an excellent investment during and after marriage. It can also be a cherished second home to a couple’s children, making it quite challenging to decide who gets it during a divorce.
Delaware County Divorce Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Spouses Reach Equitable Resolutions During Divorce
If you have decided to divorce and have significant assets, speak with our Delaware County divorce lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. Call us today at 610-565-3701 or fill out our online form for an initial consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania offices, we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.