After making the difficult decision to get a divorce, your next step is to determine which process will assist you in accomplishing your goals. In Pennsylvania, there are several options, including a contested divorce, or an uncontested divorce. At Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, P.C., our experienced attorneys can help you determine if your desired results can be comfortably achieved through an uncontested settlement process or must be aggressively pursued at trial due to contested issues.
If you and your spouse are able to work together amicably and agree on the other issues that accompany divorce, then it is possible to proceed with an uncontested divorce, or a “mutual consent divorce.” In a mutual consent divorce, both parties must sign a document agreeing to the divorce. However, you must also agree as to the terms of equitable distribution of the marital estate, as well as whether alimony or support for a spouse is appropriate. If you are not able to agree to those issues, regardless of both parties’ consent to the divorce itself, the remaining issues will need to be litigated. If one spouse refuses to consent to the divorce, , it is considered to be contested. The issues of equitable distribution and alimony will be decided by the court in the absence of an agreement between the parties. A divorce where the parties are able to agree on those issues is less expensive and less time-consuming than a a divorce that results in a trial. It also takes less of an emotional toll on all those involved, especially if you have children.
In either case, it is essential that you have an experienced divorce attorney on your side. We listen to your goals and negotiate on your behalf, ensuring that your needs are addressed in your divorce.
In order to file for a divorce in Pennsylvania, at least one of the spouses must have resided in the state for a minimum of six months. Then, you must decide between either a fault or a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce is based on the ground of “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage, regardless of whether one party is unwilling to consent to the divorce. Fault grounds include:
|• Abandonment of at least one year
• Extreme cruelty
• Felony conviction
Even in a no-fault divorce, a judge may consider facts which would support fault based grounds when determining alimony. In order to move forward with a divorce when one spouse refuses consent, you must wait two years from the date of separation to proceed through the process. Date of separation is a legal term, with the specific facts of the case determining when the parties separated. In certain circumstances, a date of separation may be established where both parties still share the same residence. The property that either party obtains after the date of separation is not considered part of the marital estate, and therefore is not subject to equitable distribution.
A contested divorce can take a substantial period of time to complete, after the two-year separation period. The time it takes for the divorce to be finalized depends on how willing the two parties are to work together, and how complicated the issues are.
A divorce that requires extensive litigation is difficult, but our experienced family law attorneys have the skill and compassion to guide you through the process.
Whether you are going through a contested or uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania, Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, P.C. can help. Contact us online or call us at 412-471-0677 to schedule a free 15-minute initial consultation. We are conveniently located in downtown Pittsburgh and proudly serve all of Pennsylvania.