Published on: August 14, 2017
Divorce can be a complicated and difficult process, and many people don’t know where to begin. A supportive, experienced and understanding divorce lawyer can advise you on what to expect and help you take the first steps to file for divorce.
How to File
To file for divorce in Pennsylvania, you or your spouse must have been living in Pennsylvania for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
When filing for a divorce, certain documents must be filed as required by the court. Filing a divorce complaint with the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you or your spouse resides will start the divorce action. Your complaint must detail your eligibility for divorce in Pennsylvania and the reason for divorce, along with any other matters you want the court to decide. The spouse who files for divorce is known as the “Plaintiff” and the other spouse as the “Defendant”.
There are various time periods in which documents must be filed with the court. An attorney who is well-versed in the law will make sure they are filed in a timely manner and ensure that the process run smoothly.
If you and your spouse agree to proceed with a divorce, you can file for an uncontested divorce by mutual consent, which means that you both agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken. An uncontested divorce is faster and allows the parties to avoid going to court.
If both parties agree on the terms of their divorce they should also have an attorney draft a Divorce Settlement Agreement, which outlines the terms of the rights and responsibilities of each party and division of property, assets and debts. Having a skilled attorney write this document is critical, as this important contract outlines the terms of your divorce.
You also may also file for a fault-based divorce by proving one of the following grounds:
- Your spouse has acted in a way that made your life unbearable or extremely difficult.
- Abandonment without a reasonable cause for a period of one or more years
- Cruel and barbarous treatment, such as domestic violence
- Imprisonment for two or more years
At-fault divorces can be extremely contentious. Consulting with an experienced divorce lawyer is essential to determine the best course of action to take.
Whether you wish to file for no-fault divorce or are facing an uphill battle in court, our knowledgeable and skilled lawyers in West Chester, Chester County and Delaware County can assess your situation, make sure your rights are protected and help you through the process.