The results of all divorces are the same, but you may be surprised to learn there are a variety of different Pennsylvania divorce options to choose from. In this blog post, the O’Malley Law Office will go over the different kinds of Pennsylvania divorce to help you make the best choice for your situation.
Pennsylvania Divorce: Fault Vs. No-Fault
The first thing to note is that every Pennsylvania divorce falls into one of two categories, fault-based or no-fault.
In a fault-based divorce, the plaintiff (the spouse who files for the divorce) is claiming there is a reason he or she is filing for a divorce.
Acceptable reasons for filing a Pennsylvania fault-based divorce against a spouse include:
- Willful and malicious desertion;
- Committed adultery;
- Acts that endanger the life or health of the innocent spouse;
- Illegitimate marriage (a “spouse” was married before this “marriage”);
- Convicted and imprisoned for a crime for longer than two years.
If the plaintiff can show the court that the stated reason for the fault-based divorce is true, he or she may receive a better post-divorce outcome due to the defendant’s actions.
In a no-fault divorce, neither party identifies a specific legal cause for the divorce. Anyone can file for a no-fault divorce if they fulfill the residential requirements of Pennsylvania.
Now that we’ve covered fault-based and no-fault divorces, we can investigate the different kinds of Pennsylvania divorce processes.
Uncontested divorces are when both parties agree on every aspect of the divorce process.
Some things both parties must agree on to qualify for an uncontested divorce:
- Child custody arrangements;
- Child support arrangements;
- Division of property;
- Visitation schedules;
- Alimony payments (if any).
An uncontested divorce is by far the easiest and cheapest divorce process available, but it is extremely rare. Spouses who want to get divorced are rarely on the same page about every aspect of their divorce, but it can happen. If you and your spouse do agree on all aspects of your divorce, contact a Pennsylvania divorce attorney now to work out the paperwork and file your divorce.
A contested divorce occurs when two parties can’t come to a total agreement concerning the outcome of their divorce. Therefore, if both parties agree on 95% of the issues, but can’t see eye-to-eye on the last 5% of the issues, the divorce is technically a contested divorce.
While the phrase “contested divorce” sounds inherently combative, there are several ways to deal with a contested divorce – some more combative than others.
A mediated divorce is when both parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, meet with a third-party facilitator (like an experienced family law attorney) to guide them through the divorce process one topic at a time.
The moderator’s role is to assist the couple in working out divorce-related problems like asset division, child support, and child custody. While the couples work through the various issues, the mediator will draft a legal contract that adheres to the compromises the couple makes during the mediation process.
Note: the mediation process is not legally binding until the paperwork is submitted to the court. Therefore, nothing in the mediation process is set in stone until the divorce is finalized.
Some spouses don’t like the mediation process because they aren’t personally represented by the mediator, but they still want to skip the traditional courtroom process. Therefore, some couples use a collaborative approach.
The collaborative approach allows both couples to be represented by their own family law attorneys, giving each side personal insight into the law. In a collaborative divorce, both parties sign a participation agreement saying they will try to reach a consensus for their problems. A collaborative divorce is cheaper than a traditional divorce, but both parties must be willing to compromise.
If your spouse isn’t the type of person to compromise on what they want, the best and only approach you have left is a traditional court-ordered divorce. In a traditional divorce, both sides will argue for what they deserve/want out of the divorce, but a judge will ultimately decide on what’s best for both parties.
Pick the Divorce Process that’s Right for You
Fault or no-fault, contested or uncontested, these are the things you’ll think through before and during the divorce process. If you’re thinking through your options, talking to a family law attorney about your situation can help you pick the divorce process that’s right for you!
Are you thinking about divorce? Call O’Malley Law Office at (570) 284-3551 or contact us online to talk about your options!