There can be many approaches to file a divorce petition in Pennsylvania. All of the approaches involve different timelines and legal procedures, which is why consulting with an experienced divorce attorney should be the first step when contemplating getting a divorce. The Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer firm will help you navigate all the legal hurdles of the case and get to the most favorable resolution.
Pennsylvania law recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for filing a divorce petition. Fault divorce includes proving misconduct such as willful abandonment for over a year, adultery, bigamy, cruelty, domestic violence, a conviction of a crime and/or imprisonment for two or more years, and the like. The petitioner will have to prove the fault in court to get the ruling in his/her favor. You can also file a divorce petition based on fault if your partner humiliates you in such a way that it makes living together intolerable.
In a no-fault divorce, no kind of blame is assigned to the spouse, but you can file a divorce petition referring to the “irretrievable breakdown” of your marriage. This means that you two cannot live together anymore as a married couple. There are usually two types of no-fault divorce cases in Pennsylvania – mutual consent and irretrievable breakdown without mutual consent.
The court may grant you no-fault divorce by mutual consent if both of you sign an affidavit saying that your marriage is irretrievably broken and both of you consent to the divorce. You are also required to wait for a period of 90 days from the initial filing of the petition to get the official divorce process started. In the case of no mutual consent, the person seeking the divorce needs to file a petition alleging that his/her marriage is irretrievably broken.
To get a no-fault divorce for irretrievable breakdown without mutual consent, you will need to file an affidavit stating that you and your spouse are living separately for the past two years and that your marriage is irretrievably broken. You will be granted the divorce provided that your spouse does not deny the allegations proposed in the affidavit when notified of the divorce petition. Even if your partner denies one or more allegations expressed in the affidavit, the court can determine that the marriage is irretrievably broken on certain grounds when you are living apart for at least two years.
Property division is one of the most complicated aspects of a divorce. Even in many no-fault mutual consent divorce cases, there could be disagreements on the distribution of the assets and marital property. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state and does not go with the 50/50 division of the marital property as in many other US states. Therefore, it is advised to hire a reputable divorce attorney to learn how you can protect your assets when filing a divorce petition and ensure a fair distribution.
The court will decide what is unbiased distribution based on a lot of factors. This includes the length of the marriage, your needs and current financial resources, previous marriages, your contribution to the marriage, the standard of living established during the course of your marriage, and more. Attorneys at the Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer firm can help you to provide evidence to support your claims and make sure that the property division is just and in your best interests. You can also negotiate with your spouse out of court and sign an agreement for the rightful settlement.
Note that any property acquired during your marriage is considered marital property irrespective of whether the title is held individually or if it is a co-ownership. Even if the approach to the divorce is based on the fault of the spouse, it does not affect how the court decides to distribute the marital property. The judge will divide the assets between the parties equitably and fairly, regardless of the marital misconduct.
The assets acquired before marriage are not considered marital property to be divided during the divorce. Likewise, any property acquired in exchange for that property, even during the course of the marriage, will not fall into the marital property category. The assets excluded by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement are also excluded from the list. Any kind of individual gifts, inheritance, veteran’s benefits, and property acquired after the final separation until the divorce judgment are also considered non-marital property.
The court also considers the age, physical and mental health, sources of income, employability , vocational skills, and liabilities when deciding equitable property distribution. Similarly, the contribution of one spouse towards his/her partner’s education, training, or improved earning capacity is also taken into consideration. Medical benefits, insurance, retirement policies, and other benefits are also counted when settling on a fair proportion of the marital property.
The judge can even direct either the spouses to continue maintaining the insurance policies that were purchased during the marriage without altering the beneficiary designations no matter who holds the policy after the divorce. If the court deems it necessary, it may even direct buying or adding beneficiary designations to an existing insurance policy to protect the interests and needs of the other party. In any case, hiring a reliable lawyer will help you to understand how you can approach the court for the best resolution and property division.
We at Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer also help you to settle matters like child custody, alimony, child support, legal separation, and annulment. Our goal is to make high-quality legal services accessible to all couples and families in Pennsylvania, which would ease the stress of their separation. We ensure that you understand all the legal processes properly and file the required paperwork within the deadlines and in the prescribed format for correct proceeding.