Helping You Move on With a Fresh Start
ivorce proceedings often exhaust emotions and lead to financial devastation. The experienced lawyers at Masorti Law Group have a proven history of working hard with our client’s interests in mind to prevent or mitigate these unfavorable outcomes. In Pennsylvania, divorce is permitted in both “no-fault” and “fault” scenarios. A 3301(c) Divorce, a form of “no-fault” divorce, is the most common type of divorce in Pennsylvania and is discussed first below. Under any divorce scenario, 3301(c) included, it is not uncommon for there to be a disagreement over the distribution of assets. This process is known as Equitable Distribution in Pennsylvania. We are prepared to represent and guide you through all situations that may arise, all while keeping your interests in avoiding emotional devastation and reducing legal fees a priority.
No-fault divorce can occur with either mutual consent or after a two-year separation. An uncontested divorce, or a divorce by mutual consent is covered by § 3301(c) of Pennsylvania’s Divorce Code. An uncontested divorce under this section is based on irreconcilable differences of the parties. This is the most common type of divorce in Pennsylvania. In an uncontested divorce under § 3301(c), one spouse commences a divorce action and serves the other. Once the action is started and the other party has been served, the parties must wait 90 days for the divorce to be final. After this 90 day “cooling off period,” as long as both parties consent, a series of papers are filed with the court which requests the Court to enter a divorce decree. A divorce under § 3301(c) has the potential to be relatively uncomplicated and quick if all claims, such as equitable distribution, have been resolved. The Court will then have grounds to dissolve the marriage and issue the decree uncontested. An uncontested divorce is not always possible, however. In the event that a divorce is contested, the attorneys at Masorti Law Group are prepared to guide you through the process, either by negotiating with the other party or litigating the case in court.
A no-fault divorce can also occur if the parties have been separated for two or more years and the marriage is irretrievably broken. In other words, one spouse may request a no-fault divorce if they believe there will be no reconciliation and the parties have been living separate and apart for at least two years. In Pennsylvania, “separate and apart” has a special meaning. Pennsylvania law defines “separate and apart” as “the cessation of cohabitation, whether living in the same residence or not.” 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3103. Thus, it is possible to be living separate and apart even if both spouses still live in the marital residence. Cohabitation is defined as the “mutual assumption of those rights and duties attendant to the right of husband and wife.” Mackey v. Mackey, 545 A.2d. 362 (Pa. Super. 1988). To be considered living separate and apart, a spouse must demonstrate an intent to end the marriage and that intent must be communicated to the other spouse. This type of divorce can also involve litigation if there is a dispute as to when the parties began living separate and apart, or if there is disagreement over the division of assets from the marriage.
Under a fault divorce in Pennsylvania, a Court will issue a divorce decree when it is proven that one spouse has engaged in marital misconduct, including where that spouse has (1) committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years, (2) committed adultery, (3) endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse by cruel and barbarous treatment, (4) knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage, (5) been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime, or (6) offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.
Fault divorces are far less common than no-fault divorces because they require a finding by the Court that such behavior or action took place and, as a result, the proceedings can be emotionally and financially draining for both parties. It is possible to file for divorce on both fault and no-fault grounds. An easy, no fuss divorce is not always the case. Every case is different, and the attorneys at Masorti Law Group can help you decide the best course of action after reviewing the unique circumstances of your case.
Aggressively Protecting Your Rights
Many divorces are not without complications. Often, the parties can reach an agreement through each other, an attorney, or a separate mediator. If this does not happen, though, the case must be brought to court before a judge. In the event that your divorce proceedings could get messy, we are prepared to guide you through the process of negotiating and/or going to court to argue on your behalf.
If complications are expected, our approach is to determine all marital assets and debt up front and help you determine potential settlement terms based on the facts of your case. We can explore high and low possible settlements. Then we will discuss the cost of litigation in the event that settlement is not reached. This allows you to make an informed decision and enables you to minimize the drain of legal fees on your eventual award. Spending a lot of money to litigate non-issues is a classic lose-lose scenario. However, this type of negotiation and litigation is not always required and the parties may opt for an uncontested divorce.
Regardless of whether you divorce is going to be a straightforward, uncontested process or whether it will be a fight to the end, we are here to help you determine your best options, all while keeping your fees low and keeping you informed to reduce the heavy burden during this often emotionally jarring dispute. Let us help you during this difficult time, Contact Us Now!