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Divorce Law in Pennsylvania

How to Find a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney

If you are considering divorce and are researching Pennsylvania divorce lawyers, you are likely highly stressed and unsure of how to proceed. However, there is more than one thing to be grateful for.

  • First, you will not have your personal matters blasted all over national headlines like Pennsylvania’s most infamous divorced couple, Jon and Kate Gosselin.
  • Second, you are not alone. In fact, in 2010, there were 34,899 divorces in Pennsylvania; and, there is a qualified, understanding divorce lawyer who can guide you through the legal process.

In this article (which is based upon Pennsylvania divorce law), we’ll discuss:

  • Pennsylvania specific divorce law requirements;
  • What you need to know about divorce; and
  • Whether it’s in your best interest to hire a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer and, if so, how to find one and how to prepare to work with him or her.

Pennsylvania Divorce Law Specifics

Even if you’re angry and your spouse has behaved badly, it may be in your best interests to file for a “no-fault” divorce. This doesn’t excuse any bad acts; it just means that your spouse didn’t legally cause the divorce. In Pennsylvania, this means that your marriage is “irretrievably broken”.

You can file for “fault” divorce, but this makes it nearly impossible to get your spouse’s cooperation. Examples of Pennsylvania fault divorce grounds are abandonment, bigamy, adultery, imprisonment, and abuse.

Pennsylvania requires that either you or your spouse must have lived in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce.

In Pennsylvania property distribution will be based upon what’s “equitable” (i.e. fair) and child support will be based upon combined incomes and expenses.

What You Need to Know About Divorce in Pennsylvania

In this section, we’ll highlight the aspects of PA divorce that will help you this most.

  • Every divorce is composed of two types of separation and massive change: the legal divorce and the emotional divorce. Your divorce attorney can help you through the legal aspects of divorce; however, it’s likely in your best interests to consult with a qualified therapist or psychologist to deal with the emotional aspects of divorce.

  • Every divorce involves compromise; the more you and your spouse can work together to create your own marital settlement agreement, the more you will be in control, the faster you’ll reach legal and emotional resolution, the less damage to your children, and the lower your legal fees.

  • You are in control of your legal fees and can keep them to a minimum.

  • Pennsylvania law includes archaic terms such as “plaintiff” for the person who actually files the initial divorce papers and “defendant” for the other spouse. Just because one spouse is called a “defendant” does not mean that he or she did anything wrong.

Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with a Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyer?

Technically, you are able to represent yourself through a Pennsylvania divorce; in practicality, it’s likely a very bad idea.

Even attorneys who go through divorce hire divorce lawyers. One mistake may cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and time with your children.

If you give up any marital rights during divorce, you may be forever barred from asserting them in Pennsylvania courts.

How to Find and Select a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney

Ask friends for a referral and Google “How to Find a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney”. Make sure that potential attorneys focus their practice on divorce law, family law, or matrimonial law. All three terms are used in Pennsylvania to describe attorneys who help people in your situation.

How to Prepare to Work with Your Divorce Attorney

Here is a checklist that will help you to prepare to work with your attorney:

  • Make sure all reconciliation attempts have been exhausted.
  • Consult with a therapist or psychologist to deal with the emotional aspects of divorce.
  • Gather financial documents such as loan applications, bank and investment account statements, tax returns, ATM withdrawal slips, credit card statements, bills, expenses, income sources, and retirement amount statements.
  • Make a wish list of everything you would like in the divorce and indicate which items are “mandatory.”
  • Make a list of questions and concerns to address with your lawyer during your next conversation.

Most importantly, remember, if you are considering a Pennsylvania divorce, you are not alone.

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