Getting a divorce is a lengthy and emotionally draining process. There are laws and waiting periods in some states that you have to follow before getting your divorce case filed through the court.
According to the law, there is no required waiting period in Pennsylvania before you can file for a divorce. However, it is vital to establish a date of separation. A legal separation is determined by the date you and your spouse begin living separate and apart. This can include living in the same household or living in different households. The key thing to consider when determining the date of separation is when did the couple stop acting like they were in a marriage.
Even though Pennsylvania does not have legal separations, couples can still file for a separation agreement. If you and your spouse do agree to separate before getting divorced, a separation agreement can help you make decisions about the following:
- Spousal Support/ Alimony
- Child Support
- Custody and Visitation
- Division of Property
- Health Insurance
Paying Down Debt
While you are waiting to file for your divorce, do not assume that you are no longer responsible for debts you collected. This factor is why it is important to know the date of separation. Any debts acquired after the date of separation are the sole responsibility of the spouse who incurred them.
A separation agreement can also describe how you and your spouse plan to handle debt while separated. For example, if you and your spouse had a contract that outlined an arrangement to pay down debt, and they did not follow through, then you can sue them for breach of contract.
Paying Any Form of Support
A separation agreement also allows couples to make decisions about their finances prior to getting divorced. Whichever parent retains child custody can request child support. You can also file for spousal support on a case-by-case basis. The court will make decisions based on the type of support you’re seeking, whether it is child support or spousal support.
Spousal support is awarded for various reasons, but child support can be mandatory for the benefit of your child. When you outline your separation agreement, be sure to include the minimum amount of child support that does not go below the state’s guidelines.
Arranging Custody and Visitation
Another crucial reason to obtain a separation agreement is to set up a court-ordered custody plan. A judge will arrange custody and visitation once you have a separation agreement. If you are the parent who is moving out of your family home, a custody agreement can ensure you maintain meaningful and continual contact with your child.
Contacting a Family Law Attorney
Filing for divorce or separation is complicated if you don’t know where to start, but remember you are not in this alone. Our Lackawanna County divorce attorneys at O’Malley Law Office, LLC can help get you started on the right track.
If you’re ready to create a separation agreement, call us now at (570) 284-3551 to schedule a free consultation.