The rate of divorce has increased over the years, and much of it has to do with social acceptance of it. Social acceptance, however, does not make the dissolution of a marriage in Pennsylvania any easier. When a marriage ends, you have decisions you need to make that will affect your future and the future of any children you may share with your ex-spouse. Getting the right information can help you make informed decisions.
I can help you understand your rights and responsibilities during this particularly difficult time. You do not have to endure a divorce alone. Get answers to your questions today and contact me at 267-931-7900 to schedule a consultation.
Uncontested and Contested Pennsylvania Divorces
The divorce process is dependent in part on whether it's contested or not. Uncontested divorces can move along rather quickly when the divorcing couple agrees on property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. When one spouse challenges any of these matters, the divorce becomes contested.
The process will proceed to trial unless the soon-to-be ex-spouses can come to an agreement. Sometimes mediation or another alternative dispute resolution process may be used to help them come to that agreement.
Common Grounds for Divorce
In most states, you do not have to show fault in order to get a divorce. Most divorces today, in fact, are no-fault divorces. There are, however, some divorces where one spouse must or prefer––for strategic reasons––to show fault.
When a marriage is deemed irretrievably broken or the spouses claim there are irreconcilable differences, a no-fault divorce may be sought. An irretrievably broken marriage simply means the couple is unable or refuses to cohabit, and no prospects for reconciliation exist.
Some locations that allow divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences may require separation for a certain time period.
Fault-based divorces are seldomly required today, but some people may still wish to pursue a fault-based divorce for a number of reasons, like using it as a factor to obtain a better outcome for:
- Property division
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Child custody
The grounds for a fault-based divorce typically include things like:
- Adultery, the other spouse had an affair during the marriage
- Abandonment, the other spouse has physically left or has refused to engage in sexual relations for at least one year
- Cruel and inhuman treatment, the other spouse makes it unsafe or improper to live with them
- Felony conviction, the other spouse has been in prison for at least three consecutive years
- Substance abuse, the other spouse has an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs
Fault-based divorces are far more contentious. They can, however, lead to better outcomes in property distribution, alimony, child support, and custody arrangements for the spouse who filed for the dissolution of the marriage.
Property division is a key part of any divorce and involves marital property. Marital property is property acquired or obtained during the marriage as opposed to separate property that the spouse had prior to the marriage.
Types of marital property include:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Investment property
- Vehicles, boats
- Retirement accounts
There are two ways this property is split, and it depends on your jurisdiction:
- Community property where assets are split 50-50; and
- Equitable distribution where assets are divided fairly and not necessarily equally.
Spousal Support in Pennsylvania
Spousal support, also commonly referred to as alimony, is not awarded as often as it was in the past. Its purpose is to make sure the divorce does not result in an unfair economic situation for the dependent spouse. The couple can agree to alimony or the court can order it. Decisions about alimony are made based on many factors, but the more common factors include:
- Health (physical, mental, emotional)
- Potential to earn
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Length of the marriage
- Difference between earning capacities
Child Custody in Pennsylvania
Child custody is one of the most contentious areas of a divorce. It's highly emotional and can cause serious bitterness. Courts prefer both parents partaking in a child's life and, as such, accommodate joint custody, which includes physical and legal custody. In some situations, one parent may have sole custody while the other may have visitation rights. Courts determine child custody based on what is in the child's best interest.
Child Support in Pennsylvania
Both parents are required to provide financial support for their children. When a parent has primary custody and the financial circumstances require it, the court may order child support. Most courts will use a child support calculator to help determine the amount.
Contact a Divorce Attorney in Pennsylvania Today
There's a lot to consider when you are going through a divorce. The decisions made during this time will impact you and your family's life for quite a while. It's important to get guidance from a family law attorney who will advocate for you and your family. Call 267-931-7900 to schedule a consultation.