Philadelphia Divorce Attorneys
Attorneys Exclusively Dedicated to Divorce and Family Law
While divorce is a trying time, guidance from an experienced attorney can make it much easier to bear. At the Law Office of Smith & Horwitz, we are equipped with 35 years of experience exclusively in divorce and family law. You can trust that we will put our experience and focused representation to work for you in your divorce, helping to make the process as successful and stress free as possible.
We have experience litigating a number of divorce-related matters, including:
- Spousal Support and Alimony
- Uncontested Divorce
- High Net Worth Divorce
- Property Division
- Attorney’s Fees
Filing for Divorce
To file for divorce in Philadelphia an individual must meet the following three requirements:
- have lived in Pennsylvania for at least 6 months immediately leading up to the filing;
- at least one spouse currently lives in Philadelphia or both agree to divorce in Philadelphia; and
- there is not already a divorce case filed in another county or another state (unless it has been withdrawn).
Note that there are three types of divorce in Philadelphia – mutual consent, fault-based, and no fault. If both spouses want to divorce, the fastest process is a mutual consent divorce, or an uncontested divorce. Once the initial paperwork is filed, there is a 90-day waiting period, after which both spouses will make sworn statements that the marriage cannot be fixed, and the judge can grant the divorce. Alternatively, the couple can pursue no-fault divorce, where a judge may grant the divorce if:
- a spouse has been confined to a mental institution for at least 18 months prior to filing;
- both spouses agree to the divorce; or
- the spouses have lived apart for at least 2 years, and one files a legal document claiming the marriage can’t be fixed.
With the proper evidence, a judge may grant a fault-based divorce if a spouse committed one of the following:
- abandoned the other without reasonable cause and has been out of the house for 1 year or longer;
- cheated on their spouse;
- put their spouse’s life and health at risk (e.g., domestic violence);
- married their spouse while still married to another person;
- was sentenced to imprisonment for 2 or more years for committing a crime; or
- behaved in a way that made their spouse’s life unbearable or extremely difficult (e.g., repeated humiliation or verbal abuse).
Fault-based divorces are more complex and will require the experience and professional knowledge of a skilled divorce lawyer.
Calculating Spousal Support and Alimony
During divorce negotiations, one important matter likely under discussion will be alimony. Pennsylvania law permits judges to award either spousal support or alimony pendente lite before divorce. Learn more about the distinction between the two on our Spousal Support and Alimony page.
Note that judges generally award alimony to cases where one spouse is financially dependent on the other and needs financial help to meet basic needs after the divorce. Some courts might call temporary alimony “rehabilitative” support because the purpose is for the supporting spouse to provide financial help to the other while they get back on their feet following the divorce. Permanent alimony a possible option, though this is primarily only in situations where one spouse cannot become financially independent due to severe health problems, advanced age, or a long absence from the job market.
Either spouse can request alimony, but the court requires the requesting spouse to prove that financial support is necessary. The court will consider the following factors when determining the necessity of an alimony award:
- relative earnings and earning capacities;
- ages and mental, physical, and emotional conditions;
- sources of income;
- marriage duration;
- marital misconduct;
- diminishment of earnings due to custody of a minor child and contributions as a homemaker;
- assets, liabilities, and property brought to the marriage; and
- relative needs and standard of living during the marriage.
Keep in mind that temporary alimony concludes on a date set by the judge or when a specific event occurs (e.g., the supported spouse completes a degree program that will allow them entry to the job market). Permanent support, on the other hand, will continue until the court orders otherwise, or when:
- either spouse dies;
- the supported spouse remarries; or
- the supported spouse cohabitates with a third-party living like a married couple.
Spouses can pay in one lump-sum payment all at once or in periodic payments, usually monthly or quarterly. Alternatively, the court may order an income withholding directing the paying spouse’s employer to deduct alimony from their paycheck.
Questions? Call Us at (215) 515-8464.
Whether you need an experienced lawyer to draft a divorce settlement agreement in your uncontested divorce or a determined advocate to fight for your rights in other post-divorce issues like alimony, the Law Office of Smith & Horwitz can help. We are equipped with the skill and knowledge to create a long-term solutions that will work best for you and your family. For legal support in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties, do not hesitate to contact our firm with questions about your divorce.
Call (215) 515-8464 or contact us online to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced Philadelphia divorce lawyers. We serve clients in Philadelphia and throughout the five-county area, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.