What is the Philadelphia Divorce Process?

philadelphia divorce processRelationships are hard – and they don’t always work out. No matter how much effort you have put into trying to preserve your marriage, there comes a point when you just have to admit that it’s time to move on. If you are contemplating a divorce, it’s important for you to understand that – just as getting married entailed more than just throwing a party and saying “I do” – divorce is more than moving your things out of your shared residence and going your separate ways. A divorce is the dissolution of a legal contract, and in and of itself it is a legal procedure that has specific requirements that the state of Pennsylvania needs to have fulfilled. The Philadelphia divorce process has many steps and variations, and because of this even the most amicable divorces can become complicated. If you need guidance or legal representation, the Philadelphia law firm of Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law can help.

In Philadelphia, the first decision you need to make surrounding your divorce is whether it will be no-fault or fault-based. Most people choose no-fault because it is the most straightforward option. A no-fault divorce allows you to proceed without having to personally appear in court – as long as both of you agree to the divorce or you state that the marriage is irretrievably broken, you can just file papers. There are certain requirements that need to be met, such as allowing 90 days to pass after the complaint is served, or living separate and apart for at least two years in cases of a unilateral no-fault divorce.

The technical aspects of filing for divorce in Philadelphia are complicated, and involve a good deal of paperwork. After filing and serving the divorce complaint, you must wait for your spouse to respond and present their own claims, or object to your filing. The court needs to officially grant the grounds of your divorce before you can make any economic or custody claims; once this has happened those claims need to be documented through a discovery process wherein documents and pleadings are provided by each side. After this evidence has been collected, economic claims are heard by a Permanent Master in a conference and the Master will make recommendations. If you are not in agreement with the Master’s recommendations, you can appeal to a trial judge. The last step is enforcement of the divorce.

You may file for divorce in Philadelphia as long as you have lived in Pennsylvania for the six months previous to your filing and one or both of you lives in Philadelphia – or you both agree to divorce within the county. Once you have filed there are decisions that need to be made regarding marital property, financial support for either spouse, and child support and child custody if there are children in the marriage. Each of these different decisions can be emotionally challenging, and it is advisable to discuss your rights with an experienced attorney before making any decisions or reaching any agreements that you may regret later. The lawyers at Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law are compassionate and understanding. We will listen carefully and provide you with the advice, guidance and representation that you need to resolve your divorce to your best advantage.