Divorce is the agreement to end the civil union or a legal marriage. Wading through these proceedings can be an emotional and exhausting process. If both parties are amicable, the terms can be decided with much more haste and convenience. However, this is not always the case and in either situation, it is advisable to have an attorney represent both sides. If there are children then custody issues can be an additional complication to the arrangements. In divorces where there no children present or the children are all over the age of 18 then there are still arrangements to be made. Alimony or spousal support payments might need to be decided. Division of property and possessions is another aspect that weighs heavily on the overall process.

As the divorce proceeds, it is important to establish the grounds for the separation. Determining if this was an at-fault divorce or a mutual consent separation is important. The terms of alimony may be affected by the evidence supported. Fault based divorces are awarded to the injured spouse in situations where the other spouse deserted for over a year, committed adultery, entered into a bigamous relationship, endangered the life of another, or has been imprisoned for more than two years. In many at-fault cases, it is not necessary for both spouses to sign the necessary paperwork to make the divorce official. Most divorces these days are no-fault divorces. Whereby both spouses agree to a separation and 90 days after filing the paperwork can sign an affidavit attesting to the divorce. Even if the separation preceded the filing of the divorce paperwork, the countdown of the 90-day cool off period starts on the day the papers are filed with the court clerk’s office.

We strongly advise that you schedule a consultation before filing any paperwork. It should be clear what the terms of the divorce will be and that both spouses can come to some mutual agreement on certain issues. If, in your case, there is domestic violence, then contacting the police and remaining clear from the dangerous spouse should be the primary step.

A divorce is not a religious separation. If you receive an annulment, a Jewish gett, or a Muslim faskh, you are still legally and financially tied to your spouse. Ensuring that you will not share tax information or credit history requires the legal proceedings of a divorce. If you are planning to marry another person, you need to ensure the legal proceedings of the first divorce are final.

As of 2005, Pennsylvania no longer recognizes common law marriages. However, if you entered into a common law marriage prior to January 1, 2005, you still may need to file the proper paperwork for a divorce.

David W. Kaiser has helped hundreds of couples come to amicable decisions over divorces. We will help you through the entire process of filing the paperwork, communicating with the spouse’s attorney, dividing the property, terms of alimony payments, and custody if there are children involved.