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Divorce: Summary of The Law and Process
This is a flow chart of the family court hearing schedule which a portion or all of your case could go through in Pennsylvania. There may be minor variations from county to county and it is important to remember that judges and masters have discretion in how they apply the law and procedure. Eliminating the discretion, expense and complexity of this process is one reason why some couples choose to use negotiation or collaborative law in order to reach their own agreements outside of court.
Preview The Law
The law of Pennsylvania generally provides that the length of your marriage, your financial circumstances and whether you have children will have a significant effect on how spousal support and property division will be handled.
Short Term Marriages: In short-term marriages of two years or less without children the Court generally seeks to restore the parties to where they were before the marriage.
Marriages For a Substantial Number of Years: The court always seeks to protect the children. In longer marriages without children and two working spouses, equitable division of property acquired during the marriage is usually 50/50 and alimony is ordered for only a short period of time, if at all, depending on the different earning capacities of the
Divorce With Children: The court policy is to protect the children. The court may order more than 50% of the assets to the less wealthy custodial spouse. Child support, medical coverage, and alimony may be appropriate in these cases.
Alimony: Alimony is often awarded on the basis of one (1) year of spousal support for every three (3) years of marriage (depending on the length of the marriage and the age of the parties' children). Health, earning capacity and the possibility of inheritance are among the factors that will be considered by a judge, master or arbitrator and may alter the one year of alimony for every three years of marriage formula.
Divorce In Long-Term Marriages: When couples seek a marital dissolution late in life, the court tends to revert to a 50/50 split of assets and award alimony, if needed, only until retirement age. Health insurance is an important consideration in these cases, as is the division of pension interests.
TYPES OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Divorce Litigation: Litigation is a last resort. Litigation often produces the least satisfactory results and to be expensive and time consuming. If your case is going to court, it is because the circumstances are such that it is the best option for getting you a positive outcome.
I do not recommend going to court unless absolutely necessary and when I do, I expect you to win. You can rest assured that I and my fellow lawyers at Astor, Weiss, Kaplan & Mandel, LLP will be aggressive in protecting your interests. I work with others who are experienced litigators who charge a range of hourly rates and will work with me to develop an individualized strategy for your case which reflects sensitivity to the personalities involved.
Negotiation: Negotiation can be a successful form of dispute resolution in divorce, support, and custody. It can work when two clients, represented by their attorneys, are reasonably civil, forthcoming with information and are willing to make reasonable compromises. The advantage to negotiation is that it affords the divorcing parties more self determination, great savings in time, money, and emotional frustration from delays attributable to court schedules. Negotiation can be used, to determine the terms of a property settlement, custody agreement, and/or support obligation in a contractual form. This can then be entered of record as an order of the court in which the divorce complaint was filed. No litigation need occur.
Collaborative Law: Like negotiation, collaborative family law is based on the assumption and commitment to the idea that a private settlement is superior to a court ordered settlement. It is more likely to avoid expensive dueling experts. Mutually selected appraisers, financial advisors and co-parenting counselors, if needed, substitute for fractious sparring.
I conveniently represent clients in the Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties, the towns of Wayne, Radnor, Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Paoli, Devon, Berwyn, Newtown Square, Villanova, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Ardmore, Lower Merion, Media, Wallingford, and Swarthmore, and throughout Pennsylvania.
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