Frequently Asked Questions on Divorce Law
Get Answers from Our Family Law Attorney!
Navigating through a divorce is an emotional challenge that will require you to take certain steps to protect the relations involved within your home. At the Rosen Family Law Group, we can take every necessary step to help you accomplish your goals. Our divorce lawyer serving Pittsburgh has more than 25 years serving the best interests of clients and providing personal attention to their case.
Read the questions and answers below for a better understanding of your divorce case, and then contact us for personalized counsel!
Are legal separations allowed in Pennsylvania? - Pennsylvania does not recognize legal separations. The date of the couple's separation, however, is important to the divorce filing process. This date is marked in various ways, including:
- The filing of a divorce complaint
- Moving out
- Having a life-changing discussion
In some cases, parties can be considered separated when they are residing in the same household. The date of separation is important to determine when the divorce can be entered and which assets are considered marital.
What are the residency requirements for getting divorced in Pennsylvania? - Either spouse must be a resident of Pennsylvania for six months prior to filing for the divorce. The residency requirement will need to be met or the case will be dismissed.
Does Pennsylvania allow for "no-fault" divorce? - Yes. Most divorce cases in Pennsylvania are filed on the basis of "no-fault." These are based on one of two grounds:
- Mutual consent of both parties
- One-year separation period
Fault divorces are not advisable in most cases, even in situations where the filing party has been wronged.
Can both parties use the same attorney to represent them during divorce? - It is considered an inherent conflict of interest to have one lawyer representing both parties. One attorney, however, can handle an entire matter as long as it is clear that they are only representing one party. At Rosen Family Law Group, we have taken that form of representation. We can prepare paperwork and agreements on behalf of our client and ensure that every document is properly filed and served. In such a situation, however, we cannot provide advice to the other party.
Can I make the other side pay my lawyers' fees? - In some cases you can, but it is rare. The most common reasons for the court to award counsel fees are a disparity in income or bad conduct by the other side. In many cases also, the counsel fees order is not made until the end of the case. If there are suitable liquid assets, a request can be made to have it advanced on a party's equitable distribution award. The parties can also negotiate a counsel fee arrangement on their own without asking a court to make a formal request.
How long will my divorce take? - Every divorce case is different. An amicable divorce can be resolved in four to five months. Absent an agreement, neither party can begin to force the divorce until the parties have been separated for two years. Contested divorce cases, therefore, can take two to three years and sometimes even longer.
Does Pennsylvania allow for alimony? - Alimony is support that can be awarded to an ex-spouse for financial support after the divorce. Court ordered support during the marriage is either spousal support or alimony pendent lite (APL), which are handled differently than alimony.
Alimony is permitted in Pennsylvania, but it is not granted in every case. An alimony award is based on numerous factors. Some of the factors include:
- Duration of the marriage
- Ages of the parties
- Ability to support oneself through employment
Is Pennsylvania a 50/50 divorce state? - In Pennsylvania, property is not divided in an equal split but in an equitable distribution manner. Equitable distribution means that the marital estate will be divided as the court deems most fair. Divisions that are more skewed than a 65-35 spilt rarely occur, but they may be warranted in some cases. Only marital property is included in this division. Separate property is not divided.
How do we decide who gets what in a property division? - In most cases, the parties in a divorce case will have the freedom to negotiate an agreement for themselves. If there is no agreement, the court will issue a decision in an equitable distribution manner, which is based on a number of factors. Some of the factors include the length of marriage, the health of the parties, and the presence of minor children. Marital misconduct is not considered in equitable distribution.
How does the court determine child custody awards? - The court is required to enter a child support that promotes the best interests of the child or children. A child's best interest is unique in each situation and many factors may apply. Some of the factors that a court may consider include:
- Parental involvement
- Child's age
- Child's grades
- Proximity to schools
Is there a standard child custody order? - Every case is unique and therefore, there is no standard custody order. Certain patterns occur more frequently, however. There has been a trend toward every other weekend in partial physical custody and shared physical custody. Shared custody is awarded based on the judge and the circumstances.
Is there a relationship between child custody and child support? - Not typically. Custody is not modified at a support hearing and support is not modified at a custody trial. In Pennsylvania, the support payer is required to comply with the support order, even if the custodial parent does not comply with his or her order. In addition, non-payment of support cannot be punished by a withholding of custody, and vice versa.
How can I establish the paternity of my child? - When a child is born to an unmarried woman in Pennsylvania, paternity may need to be proven. There is no legal relationship between the child and the father unless an Acknowledgement of Paternity form is signed by both parents or paternity is established through a court order.
Does domestic violence affect a divorce case? - If you are the victim of domestic violence, the outcome of your divorce may be affected in the areas of child custody and child visitation. You may be able to file a Protection from Abuse Order so that the individual is not permitted to come near you. These orders can be issued for up to three years.
Allegations of past abuse may also have an impact on child custody. If the court is considering who will be a better fit for child custody, instances of domestic abuse will be taken into consideration.
What are the main types of child custody? - You should obtain an understanding of the different options available when seeking a child custody plan. Legal custody refers to the parent's responsibility to make the large decisions that affect a child's life. Physical custody refers to the actual location where the child will live for the majority of the time. Both types of custody can either be joint or sole, which means that the parents may share responsibilities.
What types of payment does your office accept? - At Rosen Family Law Group, we accept payments by cash, check, money order, certified check, Mastercard, Visa, Discover, debit card, and wire transfer. If you pay by check, we must receive it at least 5 days in advance.
Contact Rosen Family Law Group
You can count on our firm's experienced representation to help you navigate your case. We are committed to helping clients through their divorce cases and protecting their rights.
Get the help you and the answers you need today by calling us!