Finding Common Ground:
Compassionate Negotiations for Divorce at Liebmann Family Law
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Under Pennsylvania law, divorce proceedings begin when one party (the plaintiff) files and serves a divorce complaint on their spouse (the defendant). A divorce is final when the court enters a divorce decree. Grounds for divorce must be established and marital property must be distributed before a decree can be entered. Marital property may be divided by agreement or by court order.
While Pennsylvania law recognizes many grounds for divorce, most divorce filings in the state fall under the “no-fault” umbrella. This means that neither party is trying to prove that the divorce is a direct result of their spouse’s behavior, such as infidelity or physical abuse.
There are two types of No-Fault divorce:
Uncontested Divorce: Grounds by Consent – When both parties agree that a divorce is the best course of action, they can establish grounds for divorce by mutual consent. In these situations, a divorce decree can be approved by the court in as little as 90-days from the time the divorce complaint is served by the plaintiff to the defendant if marital property has been divided in that time.
Contested Divorce: Grounds by Separation – If the defendant in the divorce action does not agree to a divorce, a no-fault divorce decree can still be granted. It does require that the couple live separately for a period of at least one year, after which the plaintiff must file an affidavit stating that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” At this point, the defendant can continue to contest the divorce.
As with an uncontested divorce, all issues of property must be resolved before the final divorce decree can be granted. In cases of contested divorce, it is far less likely the parties will resolve those matters on their own, which means a Master or a Judge will have to make a determination of the property issues after hearing from both sides.
Fault Divorce – In a Fault Divorce, the plaintiff claims that their spouse has engaged in behavior that has directly led to the divorce. Examples of such claims can include that the defendant engaged in infidelity, is guilty of physical or emotional abuse, abandoned the plaintiff for a period of at least one year or has been sentenced to incarceration for a period of at least two years. Fault Divorces are relatively rare as they require a hearing to establish the defendant’s fault, which is both expensive and time consuming.
Even though divorce has become more common in our society, it remains a complex procedure during which missteps can yield lifelong consequences. The compassionate and highly trained professionals at Liebmann Family Law have the expertise and experience to ensure that your divorce is handled fairly and with respect, resulting in an opportunity for a better future.