FAQs

  • When do I know that it is time to file for divorce?
    • In the simplest terms, clients go through three chronological emotional stages in divorce. The stages are deliberation, transition (frequently characterized as "crazy time"), and recovery (frequently referred to as re-emersion as self). The actual divorce complaint is usually filed at the end of a deliberation phase after significant thought when it is finally determined that one party is at the point of marital no return.
  • Does Pennsylvania recognize legal separation?
    • No. Pennsylvania does not recognize "legal separation". Legal separation is recognized by some states wherein a notice can be filed with the court separating spouses from "bed and board", which means that you will each be responsible for own debts and puts creditors on notice of same. Pennsylvania is a state in where "the doctrine of necessaries" is still recognized, which is the legal and financial obligation that each spouse has for the other until the entry of a divorce. Therefore, even if spouses are physically separated in Pennsylvania or have filed for divorce they are responsible for the other's un-reimbursed medical expenses in the event they exceed health insurance coverage. This is often a motivating factor for people to expedite the resolution of a divorce if one spouse is concerned about the behavior of the other spouse causing physical injury or one spouse is ill.
  • Once I decide that I want a divorce, how long does it take?
    • Pennsylvania recognizes three different ways to become divorce. The first is a "no fault" divorce where two parties are in agreement on all issues that includes all property issues, support related issues and the like. In such cases, a divorce can be finalized within 90 days. But the parties must be in complete agreement and there must be a signed document confirming the parties' agreement. The second way to get divorced in Pennsylvania is a two (2) year separation. That occurs when one party does not wish to become divorced and refuses to sign an Affidavit of Consent, this results in requiring the moving party or the initiator of the divorce to wait two (2) years. The divorce does not occur, however, after two (2) years. After the two (2) year waiting period expires, then the parties can proceed with respect to divorce and division of assets. The third way of becoming divorced in Pennsylvania is by fault. That is for indignities, adultery, desertion, etc. As a practical matter, this method of divorcing in Pennsylvania is rare as the courts are reluctant to hear "fault divorce" and place numerable impediments to proceeding on such an action. Such an action may take almost two (2) years to wind through the court system, which is the same period of time that a two (2) year separation divorce takes. Therefore, rarely are fault grounds heard by the court.
  • If my spouse does not want to get divorced what can I do to expedite the process?
    • This is determined on a case by case basis. There are often many strategies that a lawyer can use in order to encourage the "non-initiator" spouse to recognize the benefit either financially or emotionally to move forward with the divorce action. However, frequently the "non-initiator" spouse is buried in the emotional convulsions that occur during the transition period of time and often until this emotional phase passes there is very little that can be done.
  • What can I do to expedite the process?
    • You can accumulate the financial documents necessary to complete the divorce and provide these documents to your attorney as quickly and completely as possible. Our office is more than willing to provide you with various websites and other contact information necessary to acquire this information.
  • If I leave the house do I lose rights to the property?
    • No. In Pennsylvania, title is not determinative in the interest in property.
  • What is the benefit of mediation?
    • Mediation is very often a preferred alternative to couples who know what the marital assets are, understand their values, and understand tax implications and the division of the assets. The mediator will meet with both parties and will suggest distribution schemes but is not an advocate for either party.
  • Does it matter if my spouse had an affair?
    • Marital misconduct is not a factor in dividing assets. It is, however, a basis for a fault ground divorce. Marital misconduct is also a factor in the determination of an alimony award.