Under Pennsylvania law, parties may file for a divorce at any time and for any reason. In other words, Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that a party does not need a statutorily mandated reason to separate. Typical divorce issues include home ownership, valuation of property, valuation of self-owned businesses, alimony and child support, and distribution of marital property.
Child custody determinations follow a two-step process. First, there is a custody conference or conciliation. Pending the conference, the case will be listed for trial in front of a judge. It is essential to secure representation before the conference. Effective legal representation can help make the difference in this situation.
Distribution of Marital Property
Under Pennsylvania law, the court will consider eleven factors when deciding how to distribute property. These include:
1. The length of the marriage;
2. Any prior marriage of either party;
3. The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties;
4. The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;
5. The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
6. The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or benefits;
7. The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker;
8. The value of the property set apart to each party;
9. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
10. The economic circumstances of each party, including Federal, State and local tax ramifications, at the time the division of property is to become effective;
11. Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.
Pennsylvania Divorce Code, Section 3502(a).
Not all property that the parties possess will be subject to equitable division. For instance, there is a presumption that property acquired prior to the marriage will be exempt from distribution with the spouse during divorce. During the divorce process, it is important to maintain a list of property and when it was acquired and how it was acquired. In some cases, this will require the use of an appraiser.
Spousal Support and Child Support
Spousal and child support provide a source of income for one of the parties during separation. The court will consider a number of different factors set forth in Pennsylvania’s Child and Spousal Support law. No matter your situation, I can fight on your behalf to obtain the desired result.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
If you would like to protect certain property before and after marriage, you can draft a contract to protect your interests. However, not every contract will be deemed valid and enforceable in a court of law. Contact me and I will prepare a contract that is legally enforceable in court.