Divorce is a deeply personal, life-changing event. If you are filing for divorce, or if you are just considering the possibility, you need an experienced divorce settlement lawyer to help you through the process.
Pennsylvania Divorce Types
- Mutual consent: Most of the time, when the spouses agree about the terms of their divorce, the parties simply file affidavits of consent to request that a divorce be issued. The law says it is a 90-day process, but it can take up to 150 days or more.
- Separation: In this case, the parties generally do not agree to move forward. After a separation lasting at least two years, one of the parties can petition the court for a divorce.
- Fault: This method requires a hearing before the court to establish that the other party caused the breakdown of the marriage. This is costly, time-consuming and contentious.
A Smarter Way to Handle Your Divorce
As a smaller firm, we take on fewer cases, check the courts’ dockets daily and cultivate good relationships with the office staff. We practice in many different counties and courts in Eastern Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley. Facing many different fact-finders, fact scenarios and local customs has kept our legal team from getting complacent and kept us up to date on all facets of divorce. We have learned to think on our feet and adapt to various situations to help our clients reach a divorce settlement that meets their needs.
Modification of Orders
After entry of a court order, circumstances can and sometimes do change. Whether the change is related to a career, income/earnings capacity or a child’s needs, you should consult a lawyer to discuss the options available to you to modify the court’s order.
Initial Support and Custody Orders
Some support and custody orders contain a clause that states the order cannot be modified. This type of provision can create a significant roadblock in the future if circumstances change and a modification is necessary.
A party can petition the court for modification of:
- child support
- child custody
- child visitation
- spousal support
- alimony pendente lite
In the current environment, when divorce is so common, you should speak with an experienced lawyer if you want a prenuptial agreement or are looking for advice about prenuptial negotiations.
Prenuptial Agreement Basics
- They are binding and enforceable.
- The closer to the marriage date that it is signed, the less likely it is that a court will honor it down the road in the event of a divorce.
- People tend to waive their marital rights in a prenuptial agreement.
- A prenuptial agreement, like any contract, cannot be valid if one of the parties entered into it as a result of coercion or duress.
- Signing a prenuptial agreement can often set the tone for the entire marriage.
- Each party should have representation, and should take the time to make sure both parties fully understand what they are agreeing to.
- There must be full and fair disclosure of all assets and debts by both parties immediately and jointly.
What we do:
Interstate Divorce Issues
In Pennsylvania, if you wish to modify a divorce order from another state, your first step is to register in the county where you are filing for modification. This usually entails getting a stamp with an original raised seal certified order from the originating court. Once the foreign order is registered, you can file for modification, as long as there is jurisdiction. Pennsylvania does, however, give other states full faith and credit. As such, these cases can get extremely complex. If one spouse lives in a different state for six or more months, those jurisdictional requirements are now involved. In practice, this means that each spouse can file for divorce in separate states and each state will have different rules. Sometimes this requires partnering with counsel in another state in addition to your own.
If a spouse leaves a marital residence, he or she will likely have to pay his or her shared portion; there is a mortgage deviation that the residing party has against the person who left. Additionally, there are many cases where mortgages are not being paid and interest payments need to be negotiated with the mortgage company. The fact is, it’s not always in your best interest to pay a mortgage if you are in a separation situation.
Always Determined to find a Solution
While most contempt actions are related to support payments, others can be more complex and involve other (sometimes indirect) action such as a parent restricting access and contact of the other parent to the child. This may include denying the shared parental responsibility or decision-making. Our team is able to leverage contempt, arrears or garnishment actions to protect you or aggressively refute them with action informed by years of experience.
- Who should make payments?
- How should payments be made?
- Should the terms be renegotiated?
- If I move out of a marital residence, am I responsible for the mortgage?
International Divorce Issues
Notice, service, telephonic testimony and locating hidden assets are all subtle issues that require the expertise of a skilled attorney. If you are the party residing within Pennsylvania, for instance, you need to give the international party proper notice, even if personal service isn’t possible. This means that you have to use certified mail with an affidavit or certificate of service. After these issues are resolved, issues of transportation are involved. If you are a spouse working through an international divorce from another country, it is obviously important to not have to return to Pennsylvania all the time. In this case, electronic discovery and telephonic testimony become all the more important. In either case, if you are working through an international divorce, we are ready to bring our years of experience to help you resolve your issues as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Mediation & Collaborative Divorce
In almost every case, divorce presents an extremely difficult transition for couples and families. Collaborative law divorces, however, allow families to control costs, outcomes and animosity. It is true that in certain cases, litigation is necessary. Whenever possible, however, collaborative divorces should be considered, as they may allow you to:
- Control your own divorce process and outcome
- Civilly, respectfully and creatively end your marriage
- Recognize and protect emotional and financial well-being
- Protect children from the litigation
- Responsibly handle conflict with integrity
Collaborative divorces often force a solution-oriented approach that fosters communication and cooperation. Instead of focusing on blame, the parties involved and their respective counsel can focus on solutions that ideally transition them and their loved ones. When it comes to finances, all data can be viewed in a shared format that is agreed upon. This fosters clarity, transparency and the ease with which issues can be addressed. The combination of all these benefits allow families to smoothly transition and set the tone for emotional health for years to come.