At Smith and Horwitz, we know that making the decision to end a marriage is not one that anybody enters into lightly. We also know that most people who are considering divorce are focusing exclusively on what is happening within their marriage, without having any sense of what will happen once the process begins. It is important for you to understand the steps that go into a divorce so that you know what to expect and can protect yourself and your rights. In the state of Pennsylvania, the process of getting a divorce can often feel like a puzzle or a maze, and the frustration can make an already emotional situation that much worse. Among the most important things you can do to ensure that the process goes smoothly is to equip yourself with an experienced, compassionate divorce law firm that will take the time to prepare you and make sure that you are in the best possible position. Smith & Horwitz will do that for you, staying by your side every step along the way.
In Pennsylvania, you must file for divorce in the county in which you have resided for a minimum of six months. The state allows several different grounds for divorce, including:
- No-Fault – In most cases, Pennsylvania divorces are filed on no-fault grounds, in which the parties either mutually agree to the divorce or the court holds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In the latter case, a 24-month separation is required as part of the process. In the former, all that is required is that 90 days pass from the date of filing, that both parties concede, and that outstanding issues of property have been resolved.
- Fault – Fault grounds include cases of severe misconduct within a marriage, including adultery, desertion, abuse, and a spouse being sentenced to prison for two or more years. It can also include when a spouse is committed to a mental institution for 18 months or longer prior to the divorce filing. Though fault grounds exist as a possibility, it is extremely rare that people actually file for divorce on these grounds, as even under these circumstances it is easier to file as a no-fault divorce.
The divorce process itself generally involves the following:
- Filing and serving the divorce complaint
- Allowing the spouse the opportunity to respond
- Submitting documents for economic claims
- Master’s hearing regarding economic claims
- Master’s hearing regarding child custody claims
- Appeal to a trial judge if Master’s decision is not accepted
- Enforcement if the terms of the divorce are not adhered to
The steps of the process are straightforward, but can easily be derailed by arguments and delays. As an experienced Pennsylvania divorce firm, Smith & Horwitz is committed to helping our clients get through the process as painlessly as possible. Contact us today regarding your situation. We will listen carefully and advise you as to the steps that are best for you.