Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer
Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery & Philadelphia County
There are many different ways couples can divorce in Pennsylvania, and the time a divorce takes and the process involved varies depending upon the circumstances. With 35 years in the practice of Pennsylvania family law, Philadelphia divorce lawyer Lauren H. Kane has seen her clients through every kind of marriage dissolution, from uncontested petitions to the most complex divorces. Learn some basic facts below about how divorce works in Pennsylvania, and contact the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane if you are contemplating divorce in Philadelphia or if you have been served with divorce papers by your spouse.
How does divorce work in Pennsylvania?
The legal process to get a divorce varies from state to state. In Pennsylvania, the process begins when one party files a divorce petition with the prothonotary in the county where either spouse is residing or where both spouses agree to have the divorce handled. At least one spouse must be a Pennsylvania resident for at least six months before a petition can be filed.
The filing party serves a copy of the petition on the other spouse, who has an opportunity to file a response to the allegations in the petition. The court may hold a hearing to determine whether there is any reasonable prospect of reconciliation. If not, the case is continued for 90 to 120 days or longer by agreement of the parties. The court can require the couple to attend up to three marriage counseling sessions upon the request of either party or own the court’s motion if the couple has a minor child under 16 years old.
The court may make temporary orders at this time, such as allowing one party to reside in the marital home while the divorce is pending. Next, both parties are required to make financial disclosures to the other side so each party can intelligently prepare their case and make appropriate requests regarding topics such as the property division or the payment of spousal support.
If the parties can resolve the issues in their divorce such as the distribution of marital property, payment of alimony, child custody and child support, then they can create a Property Settlement Agreement for the judge to review and sign. If they can’t settle on these vital issues, the judge will hold a hearing where the parties will litigate these matters through their attorneys. Lauren H. Kane is highly successful in litigating family law cases and will fight hard for your rights and best interests in your Philadelphia divorce.
What are the grounds for divorce?
There are several “no-fault” grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania, meaning one spouse does not have to prove misconduct on the part of the other spouse in order to get a divorce. These no-fault grounds are:
Institutionalization – Where one spouse has been confined to a mental institution for the previous 18 months or more due to insanity or a serious mental disorder, and there is no reasonable prospect the spouse will be discharged within the next 18 months.
Mutual Consent – If both spouses consent to the divorce, the court can grant a divorce 90 days after the petition was filed. Several steps are required to obtain this uncontested divorce, including proving the marriage is irretrievably broken, completing and filing required affidavits, and completing a Property Settlement Agreement to dispose of issues like the distribution of marital property and spousal support.
Irretrievable Breakdown – The court can grant a divorce on the grounds that the parties have lived separate and apart for at least a year, and the marriage is irretrievably broken. These allegations are usually agreed upon by both spouses, but if not, the court may hold a hearing to determine whether these facts exist.
Pennsylvania also recognizes several fault-based grounds. In these cases, the court will grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse if that spouse can prove the other spouse’s misconduct. Grounds for a fault divorce are:
- Cruel and barbarous treatment
- Conviction of crime and sentenced to two years or more in prison
- Indignities that render conditions intolerable and life burdensome
How do you help with Philadelphia divorce cases?
Even in no-fault divorces, you may still need to prove certain facts as part of the divorce process. For instance, if you and your spouse disagree over issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support or property division, you’ll need to litigate the matter in court and convince the judge that the law and facts are on your side. Philadelphia divorce lawyer Lauren H. Kane will represent you in negotiations or mediation to work out these differences and will represent you in court when necessary to get a just result that meets your needs.
Call Us for Immediate Assistance in Your Philadelphia Divorce
For help with any type of divorce, contact the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane to discuss your case with an experienced and successful Philadelphia divorce lawyer.