Pittsburgh Divorce Attorneys – Call for a Free Consultation
Brian J. Fenters, Esq. is a highly reputable and experienced Pittsburgh Family Law Attorney. He is a native of Pittsburgh and attended Allegheny College, where he graduated with honors. Brian received his juris doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law. Brian and his legal team are committed to offering the best value in legal services to our client base, while providing aggressive and effective representation. Brian is always accessible to his clients.
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PITTSBURGH DIVORCE- KNOWING WHAT TO EXPECT
Finding the right Pittsburgh divorce attorney is the first step in protecting your rights. Divorce is a stressful experience that creates many concerns about your future. At Fenters Ward, our Pittsburgh attorneys are focused on clarifying every aspect of the divorce process so that our clients know exactly what to expect. We remain by our client’s side through the entire process, and provide peace of mind in knowing that the proper measures are taken to protect your assets, income, and the welfare of any children involved. The divorce process can be overwhelming, filled with dense paperwork, deadlines, and complex issues. Our legal team has outlined the basic process to help Western Pennsylvania residents begin to understand the legal system.
COMPLAINT IN DIVORCE
The divorce process will officially begin when one spouse files an original Complaint in Divorce with the court. In order to be eligible to file a petition in your county, one of the partners must have a permanent residence in that county, and lived in Pennsylvania for at least six months prior to filing. When the complaint is filed, the divorce papers will be served to the other spouse before the court will have jurisdiction.
Secondly, there must be “grounds” for divorce. Grounds are separated into two categories. Several of the fault-Based grounds are: abandonment (one or more years without reasonable cause); adultery; cruel and barbarous treatment (domestic violence); bigamy (spouse married to someone else); imprisonment (for two or more years); or, your spouse has acted in a way that has made life unbearable or extremely difficult. No-Fault grounds are both parties mutually agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken. When both parties consent to a no-fault divorce they can finalize the divorce after a 90 day waiting period. If the parties do not consent to a divorce, the person desiring the divorced may file after they have lived separate for one year.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT, APL, AND ALIMONY IN PITTSBURGH DIVORCE CASES
What are the types of support a spouse is entitle to in Pennsylvania? Prior to the filing of the divorce complaint, a lower earning spouse may seek “spousal support”. This is not often done today because of the availability of quick no-fault divorces.
After the the divorce complaint has been filed then the lower earning spouse may seek APL or Alimony Pendente Lite (latin for “alimony pending litigation”). The purpose of APL is to put the lower earning spouse on equal footing financially to support themselves and pay legal fees.
Both spousal support and APL use Pennsylvania’s Statutory guideline 1910.16-1 to calculate the amount of support. Alimony, however, is not based upon any specific calculation, but on a complex list of facts the court must consider. See our webpage for a detailed description of Alimony and Support in PA.
CHILD CUSTODY IN PITTSBURGH DIVORCE CASES
Can I also file for Custody? Pennsylvania law allows either spouse to file for custody of children within the divorce action. A spouse may seek full or partial custody. The parties may mutually consent to a custody decree, or they may seek a determination from the court. Most PA counties require that parents participate in custody mediation and/or conciliation prior to a custody trial taking place. If an agreement can not be reached, then the court will schedule a custody trial. Following a trial, the court determines the custody order with the best interest of the child in mind, based on a complex list of factors. See our post for more details on Child Custody in PA.
If requested, either spouse can file for a temporary order that will remain in effect from the time of filing to the date that the divorce is finalized by the court. Temporary orders may include: exclusive use of marital home; PFA “Protection from Abuse“; temporary child custody and support, etc. The grounds and procedures are complex. It is crucial to have an experienced attorney by your side from the start in order to take full advantage of your rights. See our article for Child Support in PA.
If necessary, each spouse, and their legal representatives, can exchange information and documents regarding each side of the case. The discovery process can allow each spouse to better determine the assets involved, how they may pursue equitable distribution (property), and other matters.
SETTLEMENT OR TRIAL
We always tell our clients to reach a settlement if possible, to avoid costly legal fees associated with mediation or trial. Prolonged litigation should always be last resort following a risk vs. benefit analysis. We can work with your spouse’s counsel that marital interests are divided fairly and equitably. Amicable resolution is not always an option. In cases where litigation is necessary, our experienced litigators are here to fight for your best interest.
FINALIZATION OF THE DIVORCE
The court will grant the Divorce Decree, which is the final step in the process. The court will approve or deny a proposed order in accordance with Pennsylvania law if a settlement is reached. If settlement cannot be reached, and a trial is necessary, the court will grant orders for child custody and support, alimony, and equitable distribution.
If the circumstances of the family change (i.e. loss of job, serious injury, move out of state, etc.) child support and child custody can always be modified after the divorce. However, there are only certain circumstances where alimony can be modified.
PITTSBURGH DIVORCE ATTORNEYS ARE HERE TO ASSIST YOU
It is important to understand the law, procedures and deadlines in divorce proceedings. No two marriages or families are alike. And no two financial situations are the same. In order to achieve the desired outcome, you need a legal professional with an in-depth understanding of business, property, and tax law. When children are involved temporary orders and custody determinations are paramount. Call to speak with one of our legal professionals and take the first step in solidifying your future. We would be honored to represent you.
Questions? Get in Touch With A PA Divorce Attorney Today!