Divorce is a lawsuit that legally ends a marriage union and associated legal duties. Assets, debts and the issue of children will be settled at this time as well.
Court is time-consuming and expensive. It should be considered the last step when all alternatives have already been tried. A third and unbiased party like a counselor, clergy member or mediator may assist both sides in arriving at an agreement. Most of the time, cases are settled prior to court.
Where to File
You must file for divorce in the state where you live or your spouse lives. In Pennsylvania, you must have resided in state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. There are usually fees associated with filing.
Do You Need a Divorce Lawyer?
You can get a divorce without a lawyer, but it may not be advisable. Forms and divorce advice are available online. It should be noted that divorce is complicated and very stressful. A divorce lawyer is invaluable in handling the process and getting the best outcome.
Pennsylvania allows no fault and fault grounded divorce. Uncontested divorce means both parties agree to the action, and divorce can be granted 90 days after complaint service. If the divorce is contested, one or both parties must have grounds, or a reason, for divorcing, such as violence, adultery, bigamy, insanity or desertion. Contested divorces are more complex and costly than uncontested divorces.
Before trial begins, your lawyer may need to file pretrial, orders. These temporary orders help decide typical issues that can come up during the divorce process. These orders can be education orders, protective orders, visitation schedules, bill responsibilities and other issues.
The Divorce Procedure
The divorce process works very similarly in all states. In general, a complaint is filed with the court by the plaintiff. The paperwork is served to the defendant. Discovery, where personal financial details are shared in financial affidavits, then begins. A parenting plan must be in place. The judge will review the case and make a decision. The judgment will be entered and the divorce is official. Spousal support may be granted.
Distribution of Property
Property and debt incurred during the marriage—marital property—will be distributed equitably. Personal property, or gifts outside of the marriage or property obtained before the marriage, will remain the individual's property. Based upon need, periodic or lump sum alimony may be awarded.
Child Custody Agreement
Prior to divorce, you must agree to a parenting plan that details the custody, visitation and the child's care after divorce. Legal custody refers to legal decisions that are made in the child's best interests. Physical custody refers to where the child legally resides. Most of the time, child custody is shared by both parents equally. There is a special format for the parenting plan in Pennsylvania.
Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Pennsylvania for Help
Getting divorced is complicated, and the divorce laws are unique from state to state and always changing. Consult with a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer for best case outcome and representation.