Legal Assistance for Divorce


Divorce is without a doubt, a stressful situation. The prospect of divorce creates many uncertainties in many areas of an individual’s life resulting in fear and anxiety. Where will I live? Where will my kids live? How will we divide our assets and debts…these are some of the most prominent concerns. It’s hard to understand that you will not be able to answer all of these questions at the beginning of the process. And it’s important to have an experienced lawyer to assist you to understand how the process unfolds and the options available to you.

Types of Divorce

Pennsylvania recognizes two types of divorce: fault and no-fault. Fault divorces are extremely rare and the vast majority of divorces are no-fault divorces. Every divorce starts with one spouse filing a divorce complaint and serving it on the other spouse.

In a divorce based on fault grounds, a trial is actually held and a spouse must prove that s/he is an innocent and injured party and the other spouse is guilty of one or more of six types of marital misconduct:

  • Desertion
  • Adultery
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment
  • Bigamy
  • Imprisonment for a crime for two or more years
  • Indignities

In addition, it must be shown that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

No-Fault Divorce


Most individuals involved in a no-fault divorce never step foot into a courtroom. No-fault divorce can occur in two different ways, but in both ways the marriage must be irretrievably broken. As a practical matter, if one spouse says the marriage is irretrievably broken, it is.

In the first way, the parties can mutually consent to a divorce. This is commonly known as a ninety day divorce, but in reality most of these divorces are not finished in ninety days. The ninety days is considered to be a “cooling off” period for the spouses. At ninety days, for the first time, each individual can choose to file an affidavit with the court stating that s/he consents to the divorce. If both parties sign the affidavit of consent and all issues (typically the division of marital assets and debts) have been settled, either party can request that a judge grant a divorce decree. No court appearance is required unless there are issues the parties cannot resolve.

If one party refuses to sign the affidavit of consent mentioned above, a spouse can file for divorce if the parties have been separated for at least one year. Separation is not a well-defined concept in Pennsylvania. You can live with your spouse and sleep in the same bed in some circumstances and be separated or you can live apart in separate residences and not be separated. It’s important to get the advice of an attorney to clear up any confusion about if and when your separation began.


If you have been separated for more than a year, a divorce can move forward without the other spouse’s consent. The non-consenting spouse must be notified and provided with an opportunity to contest whether there has actually been a one year separation, whether the marriage is irretrievably broken and if there are any unresolved economic or other issues that must be considered before a divorce is granted.


As with other family law matters, most cases are resolved without going to court. If the divorce or some portion of the divorce case cannot be resolved by agreement, there a Master appointed by the Court to try to resolve cases and hold hearings on contentious issues. Either spouse has the right to appeal a Master’s decision to a Judge.


As part of the divorce process, you will likely need to file a Property Settlement Agreement concerning dividing your marital property and debts. Other agreements might be required to address child custody, child support and alimony.

Notice to Defend


Receiving a divorce complaint can be very stressful. It is important to understand that the divorce complaint contains a Notice to Defend. This particular part of the divorce document often scares the person reading it and creates great stress. Some attorneys will try to use your fear and anxiety to convince you that you must act immediately and retain them or you will lose important rights. This is a scare tactic. It is important, however, for you to talk with an experienced divorce attorney who can calmly help you assess your situation and provide you with appropriate advice concerning your particular situation.

Handsome man sitting alone in the living room reading a letter and worried about some debt

To discuss your concerns about Spousal Support, APL and Alimony, contact us at 610-639-1666.