How can an attorney help me navigate a divorce?
Divorce is a stressful, emotionally-charged, and often bewildering experience. By retaining an experienced lawyer, you maximize your chances to come out of the experience with the best possible settlement.
My spouse and I are considering an uncontested divorce. Do I need to involve an attorney?
Sometimes both you and your spouse realize that your marriage needs to come to an end. Fortunately, it is often possible to arrive at an amicable divorce agreement that resolves questions about property, finances, and support in a mutually satisfying way. Known as an uncontested divorce, this form of settlements is often the most appropriate path for those who want to keep legal expenses low, avoid court hearings, and allow one another to move on quickly with life.
Even when an uncontested divorce seems like the clear choice, it’s best to consult an attorney before proceeding. By allowing counsel to review any divorce agreement you are considering, you are ensuring that the document meets the standards of the law and that no unexpected legal issues are likely to come up down the road. In cases where children, significant real property, or large debts are involved, getting an attorney’s input is crucial.
When Should I Consider a Contested Divorce?
As painful as the situation may be, sometimes you simply have to protect your own best interests or, if you have them, the interests of your children.
When you and your spouse cannot reach a mutually satisfying agreement regarding a serious issue such as child custody, distribution of property, or the manner in which debts will be paid, you have entered the realm of a contested divorce. The stakes are high, hearings are often necessary, and the proceedings can seem long and complex. In these situations, the court makes the final decisions regarding all contested aspects of your divorce settlement, so you will need a strong attorney on your side who will stand up for your rights without hesitation.
What is Alimony?
Also known as spousal support, alimony is simply money one spouse is obligated to pay the other after divorce and within certain conditions. Essentially, it’s a way to ensure that a spouse’s standard of living does not drop dramatically after a divorce is finalized.
Courts consider many factors when deciding whether or not to award alimony. Certainly, income and the ability to pay are key considerations, but so is the length of the marriage, the emotional and financial support one spouse may have offered the other while he or she was increasing their earning power, and the circumstances surrounding the end of the union.
How will the Court Handle Property Division and Equitable Distribution?
In Pennsylvania, a court facing the task of dividing a divorcing couple’s property first asks if an asset is Separate Property or Community Property.
Separate property generally covers items acquired before the marriage or after separation, inheritances, and items excluded through a prenuptial agreement. Generally speaking, Separate Property remains with the spouse who brought it to the marriage.
Other assets are community property and subject to equitable distribution. The court then uses the mandate of equitable distribution to distribute community property fairly between you and your spouse. Of course, there are complicating factors, so in divorces where division of property is a concern, an attorney can be a great asset.