LET’S TALK ABOUT DIVORCE
One of the areas of law that I help my clients in is acquiring a divorce. The first item of business when a client is looking into a divorce is a discussion on whether this is an action that the client is certain of. It may seem to be an odd discussion to have with a lawyer who practices in the area of divorce, but marriage is a beautiful thing that has its moments of loveliness and its moments of hardship.
One should be certain they want the marriage to be terminated before delivering their spouse that notice of divorce. I am not a counselor but this is part of the free consultation; we can discuss why you want to obtain a divorce.
It may be necessary later to also state that marriage counseling was discussed with your attorney. Clients have many reasons for divorce. The most common is that the two people have grown distant from each other and have fallen out of love.
The fault reasons for divorce are adultery, abuse, or abandonment.
Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, which means that you do not have to prove one of these in order to acquire the divorce. A divorce can be consented to between the parties or it can be contested. When both parties consent and all of the issues raised during the divorce have reached a conclusion, the parties may be divorced 90 days after service of the divorce complaint.
If it is a contested divorce, then one party may file to force the divorce two years after separation and when all other issues raised under the divorce action are concluded. There is no “legal separation” in Pennsylvania; therefore the date of separation may have to be an element that needs to be proven at the time of the divorce.
In either regard, the MCP Team will advise you on an exit strategy when leaving your marriage, especially in cases of emotional, physical, sexual, or financial abuse. We will also discuss the other issues that can be raised in the divorce complaint or due to the divorce complaint, such as:
Attorney Fees (which spouse will be responsible for them)
We will save child custody and child support for another discussion. The other issues will be briefly discussed below so that when we meet you can ask me if these items may apply to your case.
Equitable distribution is the item that delays most consensual divorces. Both parties may agree that they want the marriage to terminate but they are in disagreement about how to divide marital assets and debts. Equitable distribution is the term for this division of assets.
Many clients believe that this split should be a purely 50/50 split of assets and debts, but the court may make the split in any fashion dealing with the needs of the spouses, the finances of each spouse, the earning capacity of each spouse, the duration of the marriage, the education of each spouse, and whether there is any agreement on distribution of assets, i.e. prenuptial agreements.
Marital assets are assets gathered during marriage or given during marriage. Assets acquired during marriage can be cars, couches, televisions, pets, appliances, stereo systems, etc. Names on property do not matter for purposes of equitable distribution.
For instance: If during the marriage the couple purchases a house, but only one spouse puts their name on the property, this property can still be divided. If we took the same house, but one spouse bought it before the marriage, then the other spouse may have some interest but not as much interest in the property as if it was bought during the marriage.
However, let’s take the same house owned by one spouse before the marriage, but after the marriage that spouse puts the other spouse’s name on the property; then that property is similar to being bought during marriage. This is an example of property given during the marriage.
Marital assets and debts are areas that our office will organize with you and fight for on your behalf. We are experts at this! We have 11 years experience as of 2018 and literally hundreds of satisfied clients. Because client confidentiality is so important and because online, folks have to post reviews with their real names, this satisfaction does not always translate into hundreds of positive reviews. To add to that, clients are much more likely to comment out of anger than they are out of happiness – most people would understandably distance themselves from their legal problems as soon as they are resolved!
This is why we’re especially proud of our all-genuine (unlike other local firms, who have noted that they’ve paid for Google reviews or don’t have websites at all) 4.6 ratings on both Facebook and Google.
Back to business! Spousal Support and APL – “alimony pendente lite” – are means to collect payments from your spouse. Both require your spouse to make more income than you do. Spousal Support requires that you prove that you are the innocent spouse to collect. Usually, one spouse might focus on the other spouse committing adultery, abuse, or abandonment.
Financial support during and after your divorce is the area where, “fault” may still be used.
Alimony in particular only requires proving a need for the income. Alimony is the same payment as spousal support, but continues after the marriage is terminated (spousal support is done once a couple is legally divorced).
Alimony is based off of need, length of the marriage, education of the spouses, and earning capacity of the spouses.
Finally, you may seek that the other party pay all or a portion of your attorney fees. This is based off of need and the difference of earning capacity of the spouses. As you can see, there is a lot of work and thought that is required when thinking about terminating a marriage. My office is there to aid you through this and to give you advice as you travel through this event. We look forward to representing you.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule your free consultation, please call us today at (814) 758-5659. The sooner you call, the sooner we can prepare your case and get you on the road to freedom.