If you are about to go through a divorce in Pennsylvania, you may have no idea where to start. Instead of waiting to come up with the answers, find a divorce attorney who can explain the law and how it applies to you, discuss your options, listen to your story and put your mind at ease. At Bentley, Kopecki, Smith, P.C., our divorce lawyers are familiar with Pennsylvania divorce laws and can get you started on the path to a solution and guide you on the road to a better future.
The Pennsylvania divorce process does not have to be complicated or hateful. However, there are a number of steps that must be handled properly. Our attorneys will strive to make sure you have all the tools you need to make intelligent decisions in the divorce process.
Pennsylvania Divorce Laws
Pennsylvania requires spouses to follow specific laws when divorcing. In particular, spouses must meet certain residency and jurisdictional requirements to have legal grounds to file. Read on to learn more about Pennsylvania divorce laws.
Residency & Jurisdictional Requirements
To file for divorce in Pennsylvania, one spouse must be a resident of the state for six months before filing. A proceeding may be brought in any county in Pennsylvania even if neither spouse lives in that county, so long as they both consent to the county’s jurisdiction.
Otherwise, any county in which a spouse has resided for six months. Contact our law office if you are unsure as to whether you meet the residency or jurisdictional requirements to file for divorce.
Grounds for Divorce Under Pennsylvania Divorce Laws
The divorce complaint must state the reason for divorce. Grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania include irretrievable breakdown (no fault – two-year separation), mutual consent, fault, and institutionalization.
Mutual consent is a common ground for divorce. The court will grant a divorce 90 days after an action is filed along with both spouse’s affidavits evidencing their consent to the divorce. Fault divorces are expensive and often difficult to prove no wrongdoing by the plaintiff. Grounds for fault divorce include adultery, domestic violence, prolonged imprisonment, or bigamy. Further the court is required to grant a divorce under no-fault grounds when possible, even if fault grounds may also exist. The court may grant a divorce when an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage occurs, and the couple has been legally separated for two years.
Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. Marital property is divided in an equitable (fair) manner. It is in the spouse’s best interest to reach an agreement regarding property division outside of court. The court will use the following factors when deciding the division of property:
- The length of the marriage
- Any prior marriage of either spouse
- The age, health, income, and employability of each spouse and future earning potential
- The contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, and appreciation of marital property
- The value of property designated to each party
- The marital standard of living
- Tax ramifications of each party
- Whether either parent will serve as the custodian of any minor children
Child Custody & Support
It is in a parent’s best interest to resolve any child custody and support issues they may have outside of court. The court will use set guidelines consisting of several factors when ordering custody and support. Contact our law office if you would like legal representation in obtaining a child custody and support order.
Spousal support and alimony are decided on a case by case basis. Not all spouses receive spousal support or alimony. The parties can either reach an agreement on how spousal support and alimony are to be paid or let the court order it accordingly. When ordering support, the court will consider the following factors:
- The length of the marriage
- Sources of income
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- The assets and liabilities of the spouses
- Marital misconduct
- Separate property
- The contributions of a spouse that served as the homemaker
- Tax implications
- Whether the spouse seeking alimony can support herself/himself through appropriate employment.
Contact our law office for more information about Pennsylvania divorce laws. Schedule a consultation to discuss your pending divorce with a lawyer.
What You Will Need
Most of the documents you will need in order to get started with a divorce contain important financial information. When you first meet with one of our family law attorneys, we ask that you bring the following:
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Tax returns
- Most recent pay stubs
- Retirement account statements
- Mortgage information
- Loan statements, such as car loans, bank loans and lines of credit
At some point in the divorce process, you will need all of the above information. The sooner you provide us with this information, the sooner we can begin the work necessary to reach the best possible solution. This information will be important in a number of determinations, including the division of property, child support and alimony.
Contact Our Lawyers About Pennsylvania Divorce Laws
You are ready to start a new chapter in your life; we are ready to answer your questions and help you get started. From our offices in the Reading area, we help clients throughout Pennsylvania with their family law concerns. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. Call (610) 685-8000.