Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, there are both “fault” and “no-fault” grounds for divorce.
Most commonly, people file for a no-fault divorce. Unsurprisingly, the most common “fault ground” upon which people file for divorce is marital infidelity. I represent individuals who seek to file for divorce under either the No Fault and Fault Grounds for divorce. If you are considering filing for Divorce, it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney so that you learn about your rights and responsibilities upon separating from your spouse.
If you are looking for a competent, experienced attorney who will help you navigate through the difficult process of your divorce, call me today to schedule a free consultation. I have offices conveniently located throughout the greater Philadelphia area including Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia.
Some Common Questions About The PA Divorce Process
How long does it take to get a divorce in Pennsylvania?
The amount of time it takes to finalize a divorce in Pennsylvania is dictated by many factors. If the parties to a divorce action have been living separate and apart for a period of at least two years, then the Pennsylvania Divorce Code permits the parties to consent to the Divorce without the need to wait significant additional time periods. If there has not been a two year separation period, assuming a fault-based divorce is not being pursued, then the parties will need to wait at least ninety (90) days before they are allowed to consent to a Divorce. However, if the parties fail to agree on the economic terms of their Divorce, then the case could take months or years to be finalized.
What documents do I need to prepare for a divorce in Pennsylvania?
When I meet with a client whose case appears to be relatively amicable and straight-forward, I always advise that they collaborate with their spouse prior to filing for divorce to make a list of all of the marital and non-marital assets that exist between the parties. Once a list is made, all supporting documents for those assets should be gathered including bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage statements, statements of debts/loans, investment account statements, retirement account statements, etc. While it isn’t necessary to have all this information at the time of your initial consultation, I encourage all potential clients to gather as much of this information as possible early in the Divorce process to avoid delay and additional cost.
How much does a divorce cost and how can I save money?
The cost of a Divorce depends upon the willingness and preparedness of the parties to resolve their differences. We bill clients on an hourly rate, and hence the more work that is necessary in preparing and pursuing your Divorce will increase the related legal costs. When any aspect of a Divorce matter becomes contested and/or needs to be litigated in Court, then the related attorney’s fees tend to increase significantly. Because the cost and stress of a Divorce can be alleviated when parties are willing and prepared, I often encourage clients to collaborate with their spouse in collecting necessary financial documents and discussing terms of a potential agreement. Where such cooperation is not possible, then all other avenues of dispute resolution, including litigation, should be considered.
What happens to the marital residence with a divorce?
Often the most significant asset in a divorce is the marital residence. If a home is acquired by the parties during the marriage, whether in both of the parties’ names, or in one of their individual names, then it is considered “marital property” and the value of the home is subject to division in the divorce. For example, if you own a home that has a fair market value of $400,000, and you have a mortgage against the home with a principal balance of $200,000, then there is approximately $200,000 of “equity” in the home, and the value of this equity is used when calculating the value of your marital estate and the overall division of your marital assets. This is only a simple illustration, and other factors such as realtors’ fees, taxes, and other liens will come into play when calculating the equity in your home.
In most instances, if one of the parties is going to remain in the marital residence after finalization of the divorce, then that party will need to refinance any existing mortgage in order to remove the other spouse from the debt. In the current economic climate, where real estate values have depreciated and banks have tightened lending/underwriting requirements, refinancing can prove to be difficult. It is not uncommon that the question of “how to deal with the house” causes delay and financial uncertainty in pursuing and finalizing a divorce.
In instances where neither party can afford to remain in the home, or where neither party wants to remain in possession of the home, then it becomes necessary to sell the house. In the event that the home is sold and there are resulting cash proceeds from its sale, then those proceeds are marital property and should be considered in the parties’ overall settlement of their divorce. Figuring out who will stay in the home, and whether the home will be refinanced, sold, or otherwise disposed of takes careful consideration of a number of factors. It is only possible to decide on a correct course of action if you have taken the time to learn about your options. Decisions on these issues involve important legal rights and you should consult with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyer before making these important decisions.