Divorce can be an unsettling and scary time. The roadmap for your life has changed. You may be able to envision your final destination, but you are having trouble figuring out how to get there. An experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney will serve as your guide and make sure that your divorce process runs as smoothly as possible. Your lawyer will help you each step of the way. However, you may be more comfortable knowing what those steps are so that you know what the near future – the future before your divorce is final – will be like.
How a PA Divorce Works
Below are the steps to a Pennsylvania divorce:
• Step 1: Talk to Your Lawyer.
• Step 2: Determine if You Qualify for a PA divorce. Generally, you must live in a Pennsylvania county for six months before you can file for divorce in that county.
• Step 3: Detail Your Grounds for Divorce. You may have grounds for divorce if one of the following is true:
o One party is at fault for the divorce. This is rare but may be granted in specific circumstances established by law.
o You file for a no fault divorce. A no fault divorce may be granted if:
Both parties consent to a divorce.
There is an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage. You and your spouse must have lived separately for two years in order to claim an irretrievable breakdown.
• Step 4: Decide if You are Filing a Contested or Uncontested Divorce. Filing for irretrievable breakdown of the marriage can take time and an at fault divorce can be difficult. You and your soon to be ex-spouse will need to decide if the divorce is contested. An uncontested divorce may be faster and less expensive.
• Step 5: Prepare your Documents to File For Divorce. The documents needed to file for divorce and decide issues of spousal support and child custody can be extensive.
• Step 6: File for Divorce. The divorce complaint together with the marriage certificate, filing fee and domestic relations information sheet must be filed in court. Additional documentation may be required.
• Step 7: Serve the Divorce Papers to Your Spouse. Your spouse must be served a copy of the papers you filed in court within 30 days of your filing.
• Step 8: Review Your Spouse’s Response to the filing. Your spouse may respond with additional issues that change the course of your divorce proceeding.
• Step 9: Grounds for Divorce Granted. Once the grounds for divorce have been granted, financial and custody issues may be decided.
• Step 10: Discovery related to financial and custodial issues may occur. Discovery may include documentation, depositions, and interrogatories.
• Step 11: Master’s Hearing. In most Pennsylvania counties, financial and custodial issues will be heard before a Master in a conference setting.
• Step 12: Hearing Before a Judge. If agreement can’t be reached in a Master’s Hearing then the case may go before a judge.
• Step 13: Consolidated Case Management (if appropriate). In some complex cases, a divorce case may be assigned to consolidated case management so that one judge makes all the rulings in the case.
• Step 14: Appeal (if appropriate). Appeals to Superior Court may be allowed if you disagree with the results of your divorce case.
• Step 15: Enforcement. If the terms of the finalized divorce decision are not upheld by your ex-spouse then you may go back to court to enforce the decision.
Talk to a Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyer For More Specific Information
Do you have questions about how these steps apply to you? Are you ready to get started so that your divorce can be final and this chapter of your life can be put behind you? If so then please contact an experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney today for more information.