While family law attorneys are well versed in identifying and determining the value of marital assets pursuant to the Pennsylvania Divorce Code, the advent of oil and gas drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in Pennsylvania has presented a new and interesting twist for family law practitioners. Now, when a new divorce client walks through our doors, it is wise for us to inquire if the potential client has an interest (marital or nonmarital) in a real property intangible asset relative to oil and gas. Thanks to the advent of development of shale oil and gas, that fraction of an ownership interest that our client's spouse owns in the family hunting camp situated in the northern tier or southwest corner of Pennsylvania may now, in fact, be the most significant and complicated asset we will deal with in that client's entire divorce proceeding.
Specific types of real property intangible assets relative to shale oil and gas include, but are not limited to, leasehold interests, possessory interests, exploration rights, use rights, development rights and easements. An accurate answer to this question is, in part, dependent upon whether the potential client even knows whether he or she has rights relative to oil and gas.
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