Contemplating Divorce? Talk to a Divorce Lawyer Near You Versed in PA Divorce Law
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.
Because divorce laws vary by state, it’s important to talk to a divorce lawyer near you that fully understands Pennsylvania divorce laws. That said, despite the fact divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps required for filing:
- Meeting residency requirements
- Present suitable grounds for divorce
- File divorce papers and copy your spouse
Apart from that, if your spouse counters your divorce filing, he or she has right to present his or her side. In addition, if property or financial support is required you’ll have to arrange an agreement in an out of court settlement or series of court hearings. Child custody may also be involved as part of the divorce.
What Should You Do If Your Spouse Files for Divorce?
If you’re served with divorce papers from your spouse, you have one year to consent to the divorce. If you ignore the papers, you could lose your legal rights. As a result, it’s best to consult with a divorce attorney near you quickly to determine your legal options.
Following the divorce filing, you can elect to work through your divorce lawyers to resolve the matter. If both parties agree, you can also 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 alternative is to consult with a divorce attorney.
In the event, either party disagrees 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.
How Do I File for Divorce?
The actual filing requires a three-step process:
1. Filing the Divorce Complaint: The divorce complaint is a legal document that begins the legal proceeding. It must be filed 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 have been served the complaint and accompanying forms.
3. Final Forms: In Pennsylvania, there is a 90-day mandatory wait period. 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 transmit 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
As you can see, there are many forms requiring 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 cooperate and agree to reasonable compromises, the smoother and faster the divorce will go. Your divorce attorney assist you with the procedural requirements and deadlines.
Some couples elect to go it 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. For highly contested divorces, the costs can get into the tens of thousands. 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. A divorce lawyer can determine which route best suits your case.
With a no fault divorce, or uncontested divorce, both parties wish to divorce and resolve the affair quickly and inexpensively. Sans a court hearing, a no fault divorce can be executed swiftly to reduce divorce attorney and ancillary expenses.
In Pennsylvania, a no fault divorce doesn’t require proving your spouse cause 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 has been served.
Both parties can sign a separation agreement that can be adopted as an Order of the Court. If an agreement cannot be reached 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 parties have been separated for two years. Then, the party wanting the divorce can sign an affidavit stating the parties have been separated for at least two years, and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
The affidavit must be served to the other party. The court can then grant the divorce if the second party fails to respond. However, if a counter affidavit is filed denying the two-year separation or denying the marriage is irretrievably broken, a hearing may be held. The court will then decide if the parties are entitled to the divorce.
With a fault-based divorce, you must prove your spouse is the culpable party. Fault grounds include:
- Cruel and barbarous 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 prior to the filing of 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 that the requisite elements of culpability have been demonstrated. For fault-based divorce cases, a divorce lawyer is typically recommended to help mitigate the 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.
Need to Talk to a Divorce Lawyer Near You?
Our family law firm has divorce attorneys ready to support you during this difficult time. They have the expertise in Pennsylvania divorce law to counsel you properly. Plus, they understand the emotional stress involved with divorce. So they’ll view your case from a personal perspective.
If you need a divorce attorney near you in Bucks or Montgomery County, call our law offices. We’ll listen to your concerns. We’ll respect your emotions. And we’ll help you resolve your divorce as best as possible.