Philadelphia Divorce Checklist
If you or your spouse is thinking of filing for Philadelphia divorce, you should familiarize yourself with the Philadelphia divorce process.
This article will explain the steps you need to take in a Philadelphia divorce. It will also help you understand how to hire a Philadelphia divorce lawyer.
Meeting Philadelphia Divorce Requirements
Before one can file for divorce in Philadelphia, certain preliminary requirements must be met.
In particular, Philadelphia divorce law details certain residency requirements. To file for divorce, either you or your spouse must be a resident of Pennsylvania for at least six months before filing. In addition, to file in Philadelphia, either you or your spouse must be a resident of Philadelphia County.
There must also be acceptable grounds for the divorce. Grounds is a legal term that refers to the reason for the divorce.
In Philadelphia, there are a handful of grounds you can cite when filing for divorce. Which grounds you choose to cite will depend on the kind of divorce you are seeking.
Filing for a No-Fault Philadelphia Divorce
Under the laws of Philadelphia divorce, no-fault divorce is when a husband and wife file for divorce but choose not to accuse each other of wrongdoing.
There are two grounds a couple can cite when filing for a no-fault divorce in Philadelphia.
The first is grounds for a no-fault divorce is mutual consent. Mutual consent means that both parties in the marriage agree their marriage should end. For a court to grant a mutual consent divorce, the couple must state the marriage is irretrievably broken. Each party must file with the court an affidavit (a written declaration made under oath) consenting to the divorce.
The second grounds for a no-fault divorce is irretrievable breakdown. This type of no-fault divorce is used when one member of the couple does not consent to the divorce. To get this type of divorce, you and your spouse must have lived apart for at least two years.
You, with the help of your attorney, must complete the divorce complaint. The divorce complaint is the legal document that initiates the divorce case. The divorce complaint must be filed with the Court of Common Pleas. In Philadelphia, you would file with the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Branch.
Once the divorce complaint is filed, the other party in the case will receive a copy and be given a chance to respond. If there is no disagreement between the parties regarding such things as child support, child custody, parental visitation and spousal support, then the divorce can begin. If, however, there is disagreement, a hearing date may be set to settle these issue.
In lieu of a hearing, a judge may also order mediation. Mediation is when the couple sit before a neutral mediator to hash out the undecided issues of the divorce. However, if there are allegations of domestic abuse, a judge will not order mediation.
Filing for a Fault-Based Philadelphia Divorce
You or your spouse may also file for a fault-based divorce. A fault-based divorce is when one spouse says the other spouse's wrongdoing has led to the divorce.
Under Philadelphia divorce law, there are several grounds a party can cite for a fault-based divorce. These include:
- Willful and malicious desertion for at least one year
- Cruel and barbarous treatment
- A prison sentence for two or more years
- Personal indignities
You and your attorney must file the divorce complaint with the Court of Common Pleas. If you file for a fault-based divorce, you and your Philadelphia divorce attorney will have to prove the grounds for divorce.
Hiring a Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer
Whether you or your spouse is filing for divorce, you will want to hire a competent Philadelphia divorce attorney to help you through the process.
First, find names of Philadelphia divorce attorneys. Ask friends and family members who have gone through a divorce if they can recommend anyone. Referrals can be a great starting point in your search for a lawyer.
You can also use a site like Attorneys.com. Whether you live in Bucks County, Chestnut Hill, Montgomery County or anywhere else in the Philadelphia area, Attorneys.com can connect you to a divorce lawyer near you. To start the process, fill out the brief form on this site or call 1-877-913-7222. After answering a few questions, Attorneys.com will connect you to one or more Philadelphia divorce lawyers. The lawyer will call you within two business days, or you can contact him at your own convenience.
Next, you will want to set up a consultation with the lawyer. A consultation is an initial meeting that gives you the opportunity to get to know the lawyer and his practice, talk to him about your divorce case and decide whether to hire him. You will want to prepare questions prior to the consultation. Questions you should consider asking include:
- How long has the attorney been handling Philadelphia divorce cases?
- Has he ever handled a case like yours?
- Does the attorney have experience with child custody and child support issues?
- If you have a question for the attorney, how can you reach him? How long will it take for him to respond?
- What fee arrangement does he use? How much does he cost?
After your consultation, you should be able to make a hiring decision.