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Divorce in Pennsylvania
There are two important steps you should take before filing for divorce in Pennsylvania: Learn about the divorce process and hire a Pennsylvania divorce attorney. This article provides a brief guide to help you accomplish both of those things.
Pennsylvania Divorce Basics
Residency Requirement: Before filing for divorce in Pennsylvania, either you or your spouse must be a legal resident of the state for at least six months.
Grounds for Divorce: Pennsylvania law allows you to file for either a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce. When you file for a no-fault divorce, you're saying that neither person is to blame for the end of your marriage. Reasons for a fault-based divorce include adultery, bigamy and imprisonment.
Waiting Period: If you're filing for a no-fault divorce and your spouse does not agree to the divorce in writing, you must be legally separated for at least two years before the divorce will be granted. If you've been separated for less than two years but your spouse won't agree to the divorce, then you may file for a fault-based divorce. The court may also require a 90-day cooling-off period before finalizing the divorce.
Filing Requirements: Your Pennsylvania divorce lawyer will file your Divorce Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas in the county in which your spouse resides.
Reasons to Hire a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney
You can try to handle your divorce without the assistance of an attorney, but it's not recommended. The Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas warns:
"It is recommended that you at least speak to an attorney so you know your legal rights. If you decide to represent yourself in the divorce action (known as 'pro se'), it will take a lot of time, and cause you difficulty, confusion, and frustration. You MUST follow the Rules and Procedures, both state and county, as are required for attorneys. The Court will not allow you to skip any procedure because you 'did not know how or when' to do something in your divorce action...Speaking with an attorney is absolutely recommended if you wish to bring up issues besides legally ending your marriage - such as making claims to items of property and other money from your marriage or for alimony after divorce."
When you hire a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer, your attorney will explain your legal options, as well as the pros and cons of each choice. Your attorney can also assist with negotiating property division, alimony, child custody and other details. Finally, your lawyer will ensure that all deadlines are met and paperwork properly filed.
Find & Hire a Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyer
As soon as you begin considering divorce, you should hire a Pennsylvania divorce attorney. Even if you ultimately decide against divorce, a lawyer can explain the basics of the Pennsylvania divorce process, as well as Pennsylvania child custody and child support laws.
Attorneys.com offers a free service that can match you with a Pennsylvania family law attorney in your area. Call us at 877-913-7222 or fill out the form on this page to get started. After you answer a few simple questions, we'll quickly connect you with a local divorce lawyer.