Our Lawyers Answer Your Questions About Divorce
At Tanner Law Offices, LLC, in Camp Hill, we talk to people every day who have serious questions about Pennsylvania family laws relating to divorce. Many of our clients are experiencing divorce for the first time. Some questions are very basic, such as how long will the process take. Others are more complicated to answer, such as how marital property will be divided if there is a prenuptial agreement in place to protect individual assets that may have been commingled with marital assets over the years.
It is understandable that people facing a serious legal matter, such as divorce, will have questions. Here are a few of the most common questions you may have. Of course, every divorce is different and you should talk to one of our lawyers to discuss the specifics of your case. Call us at 717-836-0471 or reach us by email to request a return call to schedule some time.
Q. Will I need grounds for filing for divorce?
A. Pennsylvania is not a full “no-fault” divorce state. A spouse may choose to file based on the fault of the other spouse, which may include reasons such as domestic abuse, an extramarital affair, abandonment and other reasons. If the filing spouse can prove that the other spouse was at fault for the break-down of the marriage, it may be possible to end the divorce more quickly and may impact the payment of alimony.
Either spouse may also choose to file under the state’s no-fault law, which basically says the marriage has suffered a breakdown that is irretrievable, or is a result of irreconcilable differences between the parties. All marital property will be subject to valuation and equitable distribution between the parties.
Q. I just moved to Pennsylvania. Can I file for divorce?
A. Current law holds that the filing spouse must be a legal resident of the state for a minimum of six months before filing in order for the courts to have jurisdiction over the divorce action.
Q. How long should I expect the divorce to take?
A. Many no-fault divorces without complex marital asset disputes are resolved in five to six months, which includes the 90-day mandatory waiting period. When one of the parties will not agree to sign the documents necessary to finalize the divorce after the mandatory 90 day waiting period, the party who wants the divorce will have to wait until they have been separated for 2 years if they separated before December 5, 2016 and for one year if they separated on or after December 5, 2016.
Q. Do I need to file a legal separation before filing for divorce?
A. There is nothing to file with the courts for you to be “legally separated.” Once there is a mutual understanding between the parties that the marriage is over, you are separated. Some parties find it beneficial to prepare a Separation Agreement in order to fully define the date of separation which can be beneficial in defining and valuing the marital assets. Filing a Separation Agreement can also help the parties determine who is going to pay what bills until the divorce is final.
Q. Will I be entitled to my retirement savings?
A. Retirement savings accumulated during the course of your marriage, as well as any growth in the date of separation balance after the date of separation will be considered marital property and subject to the laws of equitable distribution between the parties. That does not necessarily mean they will be split down the middle. It means the value of the accounts will be open to a negotiated property settlement between the parties, which may or may not be a 50-50 split. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will be drafted and approved by the courts, to ensure the retirement assets are properly distributed between the parties as part of the final agreement.
Questions About Custody?
For most divorcing couples, concerns about their children’s welfare are at the top of the list of questions. For questions you may have, please visit our Custody FAQ page.