When you are planning on filing for divorce or have recently been handed divorce papers, there are many issues that need to be addressed before a final agreement can be reached. For every facet of your married life and even many aspects of your private life, there can be a complication and roadblock. Ilkhanoff & Silverstein is here to help you understand the process ahead. Getting divorced is never an easy situation. Ilkhanoff & Silverstein handles both contested and uncontested divorce, property distribution, alimony, and high net worth divorces. Our firm is dedicated to the future of our clients. If you are getting a divorce, it is important to retain the services of an experienced law firm. Contact Ilkhanoff & Silverstein for a consultation today.
Filing and serving the Complaint
The first step in a divorce is to file a Complaint. This is completed with two forms. The first is called the Notice to Defend and Claim Rights. The other is called Verification. The other party must be served these documents within 30 days of filing if the served party lives in the state. That time period is extended to 90 days if they live outside of the Commonwealth. In addition, Pennsylvania does have a residency requirement before a court can establish jurisdiction. According to Pennsylvania law, either party must have lived in the state for at least 6 months.
Grounds for divorce
In Pennsylvania, an individual has the right to choose between fault and no-fault grounds. Most cases of divorce use no-fault grounds for a few reasons. For one, a no-fault divorce can help people avoid legal issues before the process even begins. Fault grounds allow the other person to object to the reason for the divorce. Another reason no-fault grounds are utilized more frequently is that fault grounds have little impact on a divorce decree, unlike in the past. No-fault grounds include the following:
- Irretrievable breakdown: If a couple has been living separate and apart for over 1-year and there is no chance at reconciliation, they may file for a divorce on those grounds.
- Mutual consent: If each party consents to the divorce and 90 days have passed since the initial filing, a court will allow a divorce.
Fault grounds are not as commonly used in divorce anymore. They are used to blame the other party for the breakdown of the marriage. Though they are rarely utilized, they are provided by state law. Issues can arise when they are contested. Acceptable fault grounds in the state of Pennsylvania include:
- Intolerable conditions
What is a contested divorce?
A contested divorce happens when a divorcing couple cannot come to terms over marital issues. Contested issues can include almost any marital issue, including alimony, property distribution, child custody, child support, and more. For some cases, litigation can arise from one single issue. Other times, there is no chance of cooperation. While the court does try and mitigate the impact of the divorce by exploring the practicality of alternative dispute resolution, some people must litigate. When that is the case and the alternatives have been exhausted, we are ready for trial and will vigorously represent you.
What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is often a quicker and more amicable way to divorce. When a divorce case is uncontested, all marital issues are resolved without litigation. For some, this is possible through the participation of alternative dispute resolution methods, including mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce, each with its own set of benefits. Many people will execute a separation agreement to detail the terms of the divorce before filing. Uncontested divorces are not always accomplished before filing. Through the court process, the state will try and help the couple avoid litigation. If issues can be resolved before going to trial, a once-contested divorce can transfer to an uncontested one, saving the couple time and money.
The divorce decree
The finale of a divorce is the divorce decree, officially ending the marriage. Whether the couple agrees to terms outside of court or litigated their matter, the judge will detail the terms of the divorce in this document. This is a court order, meaning that both parties should abide by the language. If either party disagrees with the decree’s terms, they have the right to appeal the case. Otherwise, the only lawful way to change the terms is through a post-judgment modification. Anyone found ignoring the terms and defying the court could find themselves in legal trouble.
Contact an experienced Lancaster County Divorce Attorney
A divorce can be emotionally draining in the best, most amicable of circumstances. Ilkhanoff & Silverstein provides compassionate and caring legal representation to ease your conscience. With more than four decades of experience with contested and uncontested divorce, mediation and arbitration, and fully litigated divorce cases, we can manage all aspects of your case and continually push forward towards a resolution that benefits you. We are dedicated, passionate legal professionals. We are dedicated to serving both York & Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including Columbia, Elizabethtown, Hanover, Lancaster, New Freedom, York, and Red Lion from our offices in Shrewsbury, and East Petersburg. If you need our help, we are ready. For a consultation to discuss your legal matter, contact Ilkhanoff& Silverstein.