Category: Equitable Distribution

Emotional Connection Does Not Guarantee Award of Marital Residence

According to the old saying, “possession is nine-tenths of the law.” Perhaps that’s true in some context, but in a Pennsylvania divorce decision that was recently published by the Superior Court, possession of a marital home during separation did not dictate the outcome.  In Markle v. Markle, No. 968 WDA 2014 (June 22, 2015)(non-precedential), the marital home was occupied by the wife during the separation period.  During the master’s hearing on […]

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Market Risk in Dividing Retirement Assets upon Divorce

Divorcing spouses in Pennsylvania might be well-advised to consider the risks associated with various retirement vehicles, as they decide which assets to retain or divide in equitable distribution.  A recent non-precedential decision of the Superior Court, Wyatt v. Wyatt (No. 1228 MDA 2013, June 11, 2015), illustrates this point. In Wyatt, one of the spouses had a railroad pension that would pay a guaranteed monthly annuity over the employee spouse’s […]

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Suspicion of Fraud Will Not Defeat Divorce Settlement Agreement

Couples who have settled their divorce in Pennsylvania may recall that divorce settlement agreements are final and enforceable only if there has been a full and fair disclosure of marital assets. A recent decision of the Pennsylvania Superior Court tests this principle in a case where one spouse suspected that her husband may have been less than honest in disclosing his net worth. In Ford v. Ford, the wife petitioned […]

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En Banc: Superior Court Holds that Timing, Rather than Purpose, Determines Marital Nature of Disability Payments

An en banc panel of the Superior Court last month issued an important decision on the issue of whether disability payments should be characterized as marital property in the context of a divorce. In Yuhas v. Yuhas, 2013 PA Super 283 (October 28, 2013), a surgeon underwent a carpal tunnel surgery several months prior to the date of separation, rendering him unable to operate as a vascular surgeon. Husband and Wife […]

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Lopsided Equitable Distribution in Favor of Business Owner Vacated

Perhaps the recent non-precedential Superior Court opinion in Rice illustrates the hazard that is inherent when a business owner gives half of the stock and pays an equal salary to his spouse who does not actually work in the business. The Fayette County trial court in Rice v. Rice, No. 1125 WDA 2012 (October 31, 2013) awarded 57% of the marital estate to the husband, including all of the stock […]

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In-kind Distribution of Stock Disfavored by Divorce Court

A decision announced recently by the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, McCulloch v. McCulloch, 69 A.3d 810, illustrates why buyouts are generally favored over in-kind distributions of stock when dividing the value of family businesses in equitable distribution proceedings. The trial court in McCulloch, faced with uncertain valuations of the businesses from both sides and a court-appointed expert, elected to award 25% of the stock to Wife and 75% to […]

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