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Pennsylvania Divorce Basics: No-Fault Divorce, Alimony, and Division of Assets

May 19th, 2016

no-fault-divorce-attorney-philadelphia-family-lawA divorce is a painful personal affair for both parties. This stress can be compounded by the legal and financial ramifications of the split, which can be complex and affect both parties even long after the divorce proceedings are finalized. If you or your spouse are seeking a divorce, it’s important to know about divorce procedures in Pennsylvania and their expected results.

The two types of no-fault divorce

A mutual split – where neither party takes blame for a marriage’s dissolution – is called a no-fault divorce. There are two types of no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania. The most common, the mutual consent divorce, allows for a 90-day period after the divorce complaint has been served and consented to by both parties. During those 90 days, it’s highly recommended that the two parties try to work out a settlement. If an agreement cannot be reached, litigation may be necessary. In that case, the courts may be called upon to decide on child custody, child support, spousal support, the equitable distribution of marital property, and other important issues.

Another type of no-fault divorce is the two-year separation divorce. This requires the consent of only one of the parties, and it may be the only option if the other party refuses to agree to a divorce. After the parties have been separated for two years, the divorce will be granted.

Alimony can be unpredictable

Alimony, or spousal support, is a financial support paid by one of the parties in a divorce to another after the split is finalized. Alimony may be awarded from husband to wife or from wife to husband. Courts may award spousal support based on a variety of factors, such as the relative earning power of the two parties, duration of the marriage, and even whether adultery or other forms of marital misconduct were committed. (Child support is a separate kind of payment and is not counted as alimony.)

The exact amount of alimony payments, or whether they will be awarded at all, is difficult to predict, so it is advisable not to rely too heavily on securing an alimony payment as part of a divorce proceeding.

Division of marital assets

One of the most contentious aspects of many divorces is the division of marital assets – cash, valuables, property, and even insurance benefits and future pensions – between the two parties. If an agreement cannot be reached, the courts will be tasked with dividing those assets in a fair and equitable manner.

Though many of the factors that determine this division are similar to those that determine alimony, there are some important differences. Custody of children is a consideration, while marital misconduct is not. Also, if an asset, such as a piece of property, has increased in value during the time of the marriage, that will be taken into consideration, especially if one of the parties can be shown to have taken a significant part in increasing that value, such as by fixing up an old house. Make sure to discuss with your attorney every possible significant factor that could affect your share of the assets that you should rightfully receive.

The family law attorneys at Willig, Williams & Davidson know that divorce and other family law matters are among some of the most difficult times a family can experience. Our knowledgeable, empathetic divorce and child custody lawyers can help – contact us today.

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