If You're Contemplating Divorce Talk to a Good Divorce Lawyer 

Unfortunately, almost 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce or separation. The odds of divorce increase based on your number of marriages, with 41 percent of first marriages, 60 percent of second marriages, and 73 percent of third marriages ending in divorce. It's little wonder family law practices with a good divorce lawyer are so busy.

Because divorce laws vary by state, it's important to talk to a divorce lawyer near you that fully understands Pennsylvania divorce laws. Our divorce lawyers support clients in Bucks County and Montgomery County, PA. 

Despite the fact divorce laws vary by state, there are the basic steps required for filing:

  1. Meeting residency requirements
  2. Present suitable grounds for divorce
  3. File divorce papers and copy your spouse

Apart from that, if your spouse counters your divorce filing, they have a right to present their side. In addition, if you require property or financial support, you'll have to arrange an agreement in an out-of-court settlement or series of court hearings. Finally, your divorce may also include child custody concerns if you have children involved.

What Should You Do If Your Spouse Files for Divorce?

When served with divorce papers from your spouse, you have one year to consent to the divorce; otherwise, you could lose your legal rights. As a result, it's best to consult with your divorce lawyer quickly to determine your legal options.

After filing, and if both parties agree, you can elect to work with a divorce mediator. Divorce mediation provides a sound alternative when both parties agree the marriage is over and you don't want to hurt either other. Otherwise, your best option is to consult with a divorce attorney to determine the next steps.

Should either party disagree with the divorce filing, a divorce may still be awarded if both parties have lived separately and apart for at least one year from the filing date. Until October 2016, the requirement was for two years.

A Divorce Lawyer Can Help You File the Correct Forms

Filing for divorce requires a three-step process:

1. Filing the Divorce Complaint: The divorce complaint is a legal document that begins the legal proceeding. You must file that document with a court. Standard forms include the following:

a. Notice to Defend Form

b. Counseling Notice Form

c. Complaint in Divorce Form

d. Verification Form

e. Family Court Cover Sheet

f. Copy of Marriage Certificate

2. Filing the Acceptance of Service: The defendant acknowledges they received the complaint and accompanying forms.

3. Final Forms: There is a 90-day mandatory wait period in Pennsylvania. After its conclusion, you submit final forms and apply for a divorce decree making your divorce final.

a. Plaintiff's Affidavit of Consent

b. Plaintiff's Waiver of Notice of Intent

c. Praecipe to Transmit Record - a request that the PA county prothonotary transmits all the divorce paperwork to the court in preparation for the divorce decree

d. Pennsylvania Vital Records Form

e. Verification of Defendant's Signature

f. Divorce Decree

g. Defendant's Affidavit of Consent

h. Defendant's Waiver of Notice of Intent

Needless to say, many forms require accurate completion. That's why engaging a divorce lawyer can help eliminate obstacles and make the divorce proceedings more streamlined.

How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced?

Owing to the mandatory 90-day wait period, it takes a minimum of three months to get divorced in PA. That said, some divorces carry on for two years or more.

Generally speaking, the more you and your spouse can agree to reasonable compromises, the smoother and faster the divorce will go. Make sure you lean on your divorce attorney to assist you with the procedural requirements and deadlines.

Some couples elect to go alone or use online services to reduce costs. In uncontested divorces with little to resolve, that may work. Even then, owing to the complexity of filing, it pays to engage a divorce lawyer.

That said, don't cut corners. The costs can get into the tens of thousands for highly contested divorces. But hiring a cheap divorce lawyer won't make your journey any better. You can read "Nothing is More Expensive than Hiring a Cheap Divorce Lawyer" to get a better understanding.

No-Fault Divorce

In Pennsylvania, you can file for a no-fault or fault divorce. Removed sentence

Both parties wish to divorce and resolve the affair quickly and inexpensively with a no-fault or uncontested divorce. Sans a court hearing, you can execute a no-fault divorce swiftly to reduce costs associated with a divorce attorney as well as ancillary expenses.

In Pennsylvania, no-fault divorce doesn't require proving your spouse caused the marriage to fall apart. There are two types of no-fault divorce:

1. Mutual Consent: In this most common divorce type, both parties can file an affidavit consenting to the divorce 90 days after the divorce complaint gets served.

During those 90 days, your divorce lawyer may forge a written settlement agreement regarding child custodychild supportalimony, and property distribution.

Both parties can sign a separation agreement adopted as an Order of the Court. However, if you cannot agree on issues like the above, a hearing and the court will decide the issues.

2. One-Year Separation Divorce: If one party refuses to sign an affidavit consenting to the divorce, the other party can wait until the separation extends two years. Then, the party wanting the divorce can sign an affidavit presenting the two-year break and the irretrievable breakage of the marriage.

You must, then, serve the affidavit to the other party. The court can then grant the divorce if the second party fails to respond. However, if the second party files a counter-affidavit denying the two-year separation or denying irretrievable breakage of the marriage, the court may declare a hearing. The court will then decide if the parties are entitled to the divorce.

Fault-Based Divorce

You must prove your spouse is the responsible party with fault-based divorce. Fault grounds include:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Conviction
  • Insanity
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • A prison sentence of two or more years
  • Indignities intended to create intolerable conditions

In Pennsylvania, fault divorce also extends to a spouse's commitment to a mental institution for at least 18 months before filing the divorce complaint, and there is no likelihood of discharge for at least 18 or more months.

Fault-based divorces require an evidentiary hearing and a formal finding by the court demonstrating requisite elements of blame. For fault-based divorce cases, you'll want to enlist the services of a divorce lawyer. Often, the proceedings can get contentious, and your attorney can help mitigate issues.

Fault-based are somewhat antiquated. First, a fault divorce is expensive, as both parties must pay divorce attorney fees, the master, and the stenographer. Second, the plaintiff must prove wrongdoing. If the defendant proves otherwise, the court may deny the divorce.

Ready Talk to a Divorce Lawyer?

Our family law firm has divorce lawyers ready to support you during this difficult time. They have the expertise in Pennsylvania divorce law to counsel you appropriately. Plus, they understand the emotional stress involved with divorce. So they'll view your case from a personal perspective, which starts by just listening to your concerns.

If you need a divorce lawyer near you in Bucks County or Montgomery County, call our law offices in Doylestown and Norristown. We'll listen to your concerns. We'll respect your emotions. And we'll help you resolve your divorce as best as possible.

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