Children should not be forced or manipulated into taking sides in a divorce or custody matter. But that can happen when they are the focus of emotional blackmail by one or both parents. The parent attempts to make their child a player instead of an interested bystander in the family break-up drama. If you live in Montgomery or Bucks County, PA, we will work with the court to stop parental alienation.  

What is Parental Alienation? 

A parent may seek vengeance against their ex-spouse by poisoning their relationship with the child. They may also leverage their child’s feelings for them to control them to the point they break off or limit the relationship with the other parent. They may offer emotional and material incentives to the child to do so or force them to pick sides by telling them they can only love one parent, so they must choose which one. 

Alienation need not be intentional. A parent may not plan an alienation strategy and carry it out. The child may just witness one parent frequently and openly criticizing and degrading the other parent to the point that the child draws the conclusion that they do not want to be with them. 

What Harm Can Parental Alienation Do? 

The manipulating parent does not have the child’s best interests in mind. These actions can backfire if the child understands what is happening and realizes a parent is trying to manipulate them. The child may also suffer long-term emotional problems as a result. If severe enough, parental alienation could be considered a form of child abuse. 

What are the Indications of Parental Alienation? 

Some signs that one parent is alienating a child from the other parent, include the fact that the child: 

  • Is aware of divorce details only an adult should know  
  • Blames a parent for the divorce or end of the relationship 
  • Asks the targeted parent not to attend events like sports games or school events  
  • Becomes belligerent, defiant, or combative  
  • Is negative about the parent’s gifts or efforts, expressing a preference for the alienating parent’s gifts or time with them 
  • Repeats the alienating parent’s opinions  
  • Falsely accuses the parent of abuse or neglect 
  • Rejects or fears the parent 
  • Refuses to spend time or interact with the parent 
  • Shows a sudden change of attitude, preferring or rejecting a parent 
  • Shows no guilt or empathy when a parent suffers emotionally 

Depending on the child’s relationship with a parent and their ability to process what is going on, it may not take much effort for one parent to turn a child against the other.  

What Should I Do If My Child Starts Turning Against Me? 

There is a danger of falsely accusing a parent of alienating a child, who may be going through emotional problems because their parents’ relationship is breaking apart. The parents are the foundation of their safe and supportive environment, and they fear that is ending.  

If the issue is severe enough, your child should get counseling to work out their fears and feelings and help determine if the other parent is emotionally pulling your child away from you. You should also document your child’s words and behavior to see if there is a pattern (an apparent connection to visits or conversations with the other parent) and if the situation is getting better or worse. 

If you think you may be dealing with parental alienation during a divorce or custody dispute, please call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at 215-752-6200. 

Whether or not a child testifies in Bucks County Family Court depends on the situation. Depending on the child’s maturity and what they would testify about, it may be a very good or very bad idea. If you think your child may be a witness in a family law dispute, contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., so we can discuss whether there may be potentially more harm than good if this happens. 

Deciding if and when a child should testify in a family law matter depends on many things, including the age, maturity, and emotional well-being of the child; the nature of the case; and the state’s laws and guidelines. Testifying is potentially distressing for a child for many reasons.  

A child could be a fact witness if they did or did not witness a parent doing or saying something. If mature enough, they may testify in a custody matter about their preference and why they feel that way. 

Here are some things to think about: 

  • Age and maturity: Young children might struggle to understand the legal process and express themselves effectively. Older children and teenagers may better grasp the situation and can communicate their preferences more clearly. But age does not guarantee maturity. Depending on the topic, a ten-year-old may be a capable witness while a 15-year-old may not.  
  • Emotional well-being: How might testifying affect your child’s emotional and psychological well-being? If testifying might cause undue stress, anxiety, or harm, it might not be in the child’s best interest to do so. 
  • Nature of the case: If the case involves sensitive issues such as abuse, neglect, or disputed custody disputes, the court might prioritize the child’s input to ensure their well-being and safety. In these cases, the court, with or without a parent making a request, may appoint an attorney (a guardian ad litem) to ensure the child’s best interests are met. Although the judge, not this attorney, has the final say, their position would carry a lot of weight. 
  • Alternatives to testifying in court: The judge may have the child testify “in camera” in their chambers, with the parties and attorneys present, to lessen the stress of the situation. The judge would ask the questions of the child, with the attorneys making suggestions. 
  • Child’s wishes: The child may want to testify. If the child is mature enough and a judge thinks their input in a custody case would be helpful, it may happen. 

Depending on the situation, it may clearly be a good or bad idea that a child testify. If your case is not clear cut, the advice of an experienced family law attorney may be critical to handling the situation in a way that protects your interests and those of your child. 

A Child’s Testimony Can be a Delicate Matter. Make Sure It Is Handled Properly 

Any witness testimony can be critical in a family law matter, especially that of a child. The best way to avoid having a child testify may be to negotiate a favorable outcome prior to a trial so this problem never occurs. To learn more or discuss legal representation, call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at (866) 349-4721 or book a consultation online.   

Divorces can be very stressful, and parties rely on their attorneys to help them. You may doubt your attorney as the matter progresses, but that does not necessarily mean you made the wrong choice. There are good reasons to fire one lawyer and hire another, but the costs in time and money may be high. 

  1. Lack of Communication and Responsiveness 

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful lawyer-client relationship. If it is a problem, discuss this with your lawyer. Communication is a two-way street. Is your attorney making good faith efforts to keep in touch, but you are the one who is not responsive? 

If your current divorce lawyer is consistently slow to respond to your inquiries, fails to keep you updated on the progress of your case, or seems uninterested in addressing your concerns, it is a clear sign that their commitment to your case might be lacking. A new divorce lawyer who values clear and open communication can give you the peace of mind you deserve during this process. 

  1. Inadequate Expertise in Family Law 

Divorce cases may involve many legal issues, from property division and spousal support to child custody and visitation arrangements. If your current lawyer lacks specialized expertise in family law or has no proven track record in handling divorce cases, you might benefit from seeking representation from a lawyer with a stronger background in this area.  

You may have known your attorney is not the most experienced divorce lawyer when you retained them, but you did not think it would be a problem. If it has become an issue, a knowledgeable divorce lawyer like Karen Ann Ulmer can offer insightful guidance and increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in less time and, possibly, with less expense. 

  1. Misaligned Strategy and Objectives 

Every divorce case is unique, requiring a personalized strategy to address your specific circumstances and goals. If you feel your lawyer’s approach does not align with what you hope to achieve from the divorce, it might be time to explore other options.  

Your divorce lawyer should be your advocate, diligently safeguarding your interests and pursuing the best possible resolution. If you do not think this is happening, seeking a new lawyer may be a good idea. 

  1. Questionable Professionalism 

Professionalism is a fundamental trait that every lawyer should possess. If your current divorce lawyer consistently displays unprofessional behavior, such as missing deadlines, arriving unprepared to meetings or hearings, or engaging in unethical practices, it is a clear signal that their dedication to your case is compromised.  

No one is perfect and competent attorneys sometimes make mistakes. But it may be time for a change if you fear it has gone beyond that.  

  1. Conflict of Interest 

If you suspect your current lawyer might have a conflict of interest with a past or current client that could compromise their ability to represent you objectively, you should address this concern. Seeking a new divorce lawyer without any potential conflicts may give you peace of mind that your interests are being put first. 

  1. Lack of Empathy and Compassion 

Going through a divorce is emotionally challenging, and having a lawyer who understands and respects your feelings can make a significant difference in your experience. Attorneys should support their clients, but we are not social workers. You do not want an attorney who sugarcoats your situation and only tells you want to hear. 

But if your current lawyer lacks empathy, appears indifferent to your emotional needs, or fails to provide the support you require during this challenging time, it might be worth considering a switch to a lawyer who is more compassionate and attuned to your emotional well-being.  

Family law is a very “hands-on” practice in which you interact daily with stressed clients dealing with personal and important conflicts. Your lawyer might not be cut out for this type of work or may be burning out and not connecting with clients to limit the emotional toll these cases can take. 

  1. Stagnant Progress and Delays 

A divorce case should move forward efficiently and effectively, with all parties working toward a resolution. Our court system is severely backed up, but if your case has been stagnating without any progress or your lawyer seems to be causing unnecessary delays, it can lead to frustration and extended emotional distress.  

Seeking a new divorce lawyer who is proactive and committed to advancing your case may bring closure sooner. But getting a new attorney will cause an initial, additional delay as they “get up to speed” with your case. There may also be scheduling conflicts between your case and the attorney’s current caseload. Will this delay be worth it? 

No matter the problem, you should: 

  • Discuss it with your attorney. You need to get their side of the story because what you think is a problem may be a misunderstanding or miscommunication that can be cleared up. 
  • Discuss it with another attorney. If you are serious about switching attorneys, get a copy of your file and review it with another attorney. They may find genuine areas of concern, or that what you are experiencing is a typical issue that comes with a divorce case. 

Divorce cases are stressful enough. Getting an attorney who is a better fit may lessen that stress, but needlessly switching lawyers will add to your problems. 

If you are dissatisfied with your current attorney, contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., so we can discuss your situation and whether having a new attorney represent you is in your best interests. Call us at (866) 311-4783 or complete our online contact form today.  

Like all things legal, that depends on the facts. Some types of recordings are legal, while others are not. The answer is no if you want to secretly record a conversation with your ex without their consent in Pennsylvania. That applies to face-to-face and phone or electronic communications. Pennsylvania’s wiretap laws are very strict. If you or the other party is located in PA at the time of the call then you must have consent. Therefore, if you feel it is necessary to record another individual, it is best to first consult with an attorney.  

You may be very motivated to succeed at whatever legal challenge you face. You might seek revenge against your spouse who did you wrong, and you think a recording of them making incriminating statements would be frosting on the cake. However, while secretly recording someone is generally legal in some states, it is not legal in others, including Pennsylvania. 

What Is the Law in Pennsylvania? 

The state has a criminal “wiretapping law” that covers recording conversations over the phone or electronically and in person. It requires that all parties involved consent to the recording unless you fall into one of the exceptions (which mainly cover law enforcement). If you are convicted of violating this statute you could face up to seven years in prison, a fine between $2,500 and $15,000, or both.  

This statute states that you would violate the law if you: 

  • Intentionally intercept, try to intercept, or get the help of another to intercept or try to intercept any “wire, electronic or oral communication.” 
  • Disclose or try to disclose to another “the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom” while knowing, or having reason to know, the information was obtained illegally. 
  • Use or try to use “the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom” while knowing, or having reason to know, the information was obtained illegally  

If you secretly record your ex, bring it to our office, and play it in the hopes of using it as evidence, you arguably broke the law three times. You recorded the conversation, played it, and tried to use it against your ex.  

If you have such a recording, we do not want to listen to it, and we cannot use it as evidence in a legal matter. If you make a secret recording and play it for us, we cannot represent you because we would be potential witnesses to your criminal prosecution. 

What are the Exceptions? 

Another statute states that you can record conversations when all parties consent. If you do this, you should ask for and record their consent in case they later claim you made the recording secretly. Explicit consent is always a good idea but is not required if you plainly warn the other party of the recording and they speak anyway. 

One Pennsylvania court ruled that recordings are permissible if all the parties knew, or should have known, of the recording. The recording at issue involved communications at a county jail where two people used a closed-circuit system using telephone handsets which gave them a warning the conversation could be recorded. 

If the two of you are in public but not having a private conversation, and the other person has no reasonable expectation of privacy, you could take out your smartphone and start recording. This could be a situation where you are both in a store, restaurant, or busy sidewalk, and the person is yelling at you, not in a restaurant where the two of you are using normal tones of voice while your smartphone secretly records what is said. 

Can I Use Video to Record My Ex? 

Video can be used as long as the audio is not recorded and the person does not expect privacy. If your ex is violating a custody agreement by chronically being late to pick up or drop off your child, a properly set camera with the correct date and time showing when they come and go is fair game. If you have a protection from abuse order against a person, but they violate it by coming to your home or following you, video can document what is happening.  

Before You Record a Conversation, Contact Our Office 

The potential cost of secretly recording a conversation is steep, so do not do it until you fully understand the law. What you want to do may or may not be legal or admissible in court. We can also answer your questions if you are involved in a family law dispute and learn you have been secretly recorded. 

Call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at (866) 349-4721 or book a consultation online now.  

Discovery is the process in which both parties exchange information, documents, and sworn testimony. It is a critical part of a divorce, especially if the parties have difficulty negotiating a settlement and the case appears headed for a trial. 

Discovery produces the evidence that fuels the divorce process. Without facts, neither party can establish their case or negotiating positions. You cannot resolve a divorce based on opinions and emotions. You need facts, which discovery reveals. 

When Can Discovery Be Used? 

Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1930.5 covers discovery in domestic relations cases. It states discovery is: 

  • Not allowed in “simple” support, custody, Protection from Abuse, or Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation proceedings unless a judge authorizes it. 
  • Allowed without court approval in alimony, equitable distribution, counsel fees and expenses, and “complex” support proceedings. 

Discovery can be expensive and time-consuming, so it is not appropriate in every case. 

What Can a Party Seek in Discovery? 

The information and documents sought must be relevant under Pennsylvania Rule Civil Procedure 4003.1

  • What is sought can concern any matter not privileged (it need not be disclosed under civil procedure rules or applicable laws) which is relevant to the divorce.  
  • It can relate to a claim or defense. 
  • It can cover the existence, description, nature, content, condition, who has custody of, and location of documents, books, or other tangible things. 
  • It can ask for the identity and location of those knowing any discoverable matter. 
  • What is sought need not be admissible at trial if the request appears intended to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. 

The discovery process should force both parties to “show their cards” so they understand all the relevant facts as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their case. After the parties make complete disclosures, cases where negotiations have not gone well often settle. 

How Does Discovery Work? 

Discovery methods include providing to the other party and responding to: 

  • Interrogatories: A set of questions. 
  • Production requests: A list of documents sought by a party. They can exist on paper electronically. 
  • Subpoena to produce things and/or documents: A formal request by one party to the other that is potentially enforceable by court order. They are usually used by the party seeking information or documents after the other party objects to what is sought and refuses to respond. 
  • Request for admission: One party asks the other to admit whether a series of statements is true or not. 

The receiving party can object if they have a valid reason to refuse to respond to a request. (It is not relevant, confusing, or overly broad, for example). The party seeking discovery can amend the request to accommodate the objection, ask a judge to order a response, or decide to drop the issue. If there are no valid grounds to object, the party must respond. 

What are Depositions? 

Depositions are another discovery form. They are interviews of parties and possible witnesses. The people answering questions are “deposed,” and they must swear under oath that what they are saying is true and accurate.  

Attorneys for both sides ask questions. If one side feels the other attorney’s question is improper, they can object and instruct the person not to respond or limit their response. If the questioning attorney wants to push the issue, they can ask the judge in the case to decide if the objection is valid. 

Every discovery method can be helpful, especially in cases where the parties’ incomes and assets are disputed, but depositions can be critical to cases beyond the information they may provide. Not only is what is being said important, but how. Is the person confident and credible? Nervous and reticent? Angry and uncooperative?  

If the deposition goes well, the party may be more confident in taking a case to trial and demand more in settlement negotiations. If it goes poorly, and a judge or jury may not find the person believable or likable, the party may be more flexible in negotiations to avoid a trial. 

Contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., if you have questions about the legal process or believe you will need representation in a divorce matter. Call us at (866) 311-4783 or complete our online contact form today.  

A crucial benefit of retaining us for your divorce is that we will deal with your difficult spouse (or their attorney) so you will not have to. You will make important decisions on your goals and objectives and what you are willing to sacrifice to reach them. But we will work to get you the best resolution possible, given your situation. 

Your spouse may have been difficult during your marriage or become an irritation machine as the relationship ends. You may be used to negotiating during your relationship, but this can turn far uglier during a divorce. 

Stay Above the Fray 

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C. attorneys are used to tough negotiations. We have seen all the head games, power plays, distractions, and problems created to invent obstacles. Divorces can be highly emotional, and your spouse may be furious at you and the situation.  

That can play out during negotiations. Some spouses use settlement talks to try to settle scores and cause as much grief as possible. Our attorneys will deal with this and reduce its impact on you as much as we can. 

Negotiations Should Not Be a Battle of Wills 

It is normal for a party in any negotiation to use leverage to get a favorable agreement. What sets destructive negotiations apart is when one party goes to extremes to create or use that leverage to get what they want.  

Keep calm and think straight while your spouse tries to stockpile issues to hold over you. Settling a divorce should be considered a business transaction. The two of you are trading things, so you are both in a good position after the marriage ends.  

Facts and the legal issues that arise from them fuel the divorce process. We need to document your family’s debts and assets thoroughly. If your spouse owns a business, it may be used to hide assets to prevent some of them from going to you or your children. 

We may discover evidence that your spouse can not try to spin to their advantage. Facts may create a basis for legal claims that could give you leverage. As a result, your obstinate spouse may realize the cards they are holding are not nearly as good as they think. 

Pick Your Battles and Be Smart About Negotiations  

We will discuss with you what you will need after your divorce. You may achieve these non-negotiable issues because you are willing to sacrifice (or at least be flexible about) other matters. For example, you may be willing to give up claims on some assets or spousal support because you want the family house.  

Ultimately you will need to decide the outcome of complex negotiations. If your spouse makes a stink about inconsequential things, it may be best to give in. But you will also have lines that you are unwilling to cross.  

That is entirely reasonable, as long as what you are willing to go to battle for is critical to starting your life over. Do not become like your spouse – drawing uncrossable lines to create conflict and chaos to weaken and frustrate the other spouse in a battle of attrition. 

If Spouses Can Not End Their Marriage, a Judge Can Do It for Them 

Very few divorce cases go to trial. They are expensive, time-consuming, and emotional, and may force you to spend energy you would rather use on other parts of your life. But they are often the result of one or both spouses being unwilling to reasonably and sensibly negotiate a resolution to their differences.  

Contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., if you have questions about divorce or believe you will need legal assistance with one. Call us at (866) 311-4783 or complete our online contact form today.  

If you are involved in a family law matter in Bucks County, bringing your kids to court is not a good idea for practical reasons, how it may be perceived by those in the courtroom, and the harm it may do to your kids.  

Bringing your kids along may be interpreted as a “power play” by a judge, the other parent, and their attorney. Kids are not accessories to be used along with the right clothes to show you are someone to be reckoned with. This approach in a custody dispute may backfire because the judge may see you putting your interests ahead of your child. 

This Is Not a Play or a Sporting Event. Parents are Airing Their Grievances About Each Other 

It is crucial to shield children from conflict and allow them to maintain a positive and healthy relationship with both parents. Parents can protect their children from unnecessary stress by keeping them out of the courtroom and preserving the parent-child bond during a challenging time. 

Family court proceedings can be stressful and emotionally charged, with heated arguments and conflicting testimonies. Exposing children to these intense and potentially confrontational situations can cause significant emotional distress.  

Children may feel caught in the middle, torn between their parents or family members, leading to confusion, anxiety, and insecurity. Witnessing parental conflict in a formal courtroom setting can have long-lasting adverse effects on children’s emotional well-being and may contribute to relationship difficulties in the future. 

The Truth Should Be Spoken in Court. The Fact Your Kids are There May Make That More Difficult 

Kids’ presence in the court can distort the process. There is a risk a parent may say something for the child’s benefit. They may want the child “on their side” and put on a show to ingratiate themselves with the child while painting an overly negative picture of the other parent.  

The opposite might also be true. A parent may hold back on what they might otherwise claim about the other parent to avoid hurting the child’s feelings and drawing them deeper into the conflict. A manipulative parent may bring their kids to court with this in mind as a shield to try to blunt what the other parent may say about them. 

Your Children are Going Through Enough. They Do Not Need to be Humiliated 

An essential reason for settling family law issues is if you do not, they will be discussed in a courtroom open to the public. All of the family’s dirty laundry may be aired. A child in a courtroom may hear things about their parents or siblings that they do not need to know in a way that can be very harmful.  

They may also hear their personal issues discussed in a room full of strangers, which may humiliate them. Respecting their privacy is essential for maintaining their dignity and protecting them from potential stigmatization or unwarranted attention. 

Distractions Can Make a Bad Situation Worse 

If a child is very young or emotionally sensitive, they may create a distraction in the courtroom. An infant not feeling well, hungry, or with a dirty diaper will make their presence known. They know nothing of courtroom etiquette. Distraught over what they hear, an older child may also respond with tears, sharp words, and lashing out. There is too much going on in the courtroom, and it is too important to be subjected to these distractions. 

Contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., if you have questions or believe you will need legal assistance with a child custody dispute, whether or not it’s part of a divorce. Call us at (866) 311-4783 or fill out our online contact form today. 

If you are emotionally ready, starting a new relationship after a divorce may be a good idea. Depending on your situation, living together may be a bad idea because it may jeopardize, among other things, the alimony you receive and child custody arrangements. 

Could Cohabitation Impact Alimony? 

Pennsylvania statute 23 P.A.C.S. § 3706 states that cohabitation bars receiving alimony

“No petitioner is entitled to receive an award of alimony where the petitioner, subsequent to the divorce pursuant to which alimony is being sought, has entered into cohabitation with a person of the opposite sex who is not a member of the family of the petitioner within the degrees of consanguinity.”  

“Cohabitation” under this statute has been interpreted as meaning: 

  • Two persons of the opposite sex residing together 
  • In the manner of husband and wife 
  • Mutually assuming those rights and duties that usually come with marriage 

Cohabitation may be shown by evidence of: 

  • Financial, social, and sexual interdependence 
  • Sharing the same residence 

This statute, strictly speaking, only applies to opposite-sex couples, though a divorce agreement could ban alimony if a party cohabitates with someone of the same sex as well. 

Could Cohabitation Impact Child Custody? 

Courts should make custody and visitation decisions based on the child’s best interests. Starting a new relationship, especially if it reaches the point where the two of you live together, could result in the other parent (rightly or wrongly) challenging your custody (whether that has been decided by a court in the past or it will be determined in the future): 

  • What is your relationship history? Have you had several partners moving in and out? The more unstable your household, the higher the number of people living with your child, the bigger the problem 
  • Does your partner have problems? Do they use illegal drugs, abuse alcohol, or suffer from poorly managed psychological issues? Do they have a criminal record? Are they a potential threat to the child? 
  • What is the relationship between your partner and your child? Does your partner care about your child or are they indifferent? Do they treat your child well or are they abusive? 
  • Does your partner degrade the other parent in front of the child? Do their words show they are trying to alienate your child from the other parent? Do they lobby you to ignore parenting time arrangements so the other parent sees their child less often? 
  • Are you also living with your partner’s children? If so, how does that affect your child? How do those children treat your child? How has that impacted your child’s relationship with you? 

You should live your own life, but if you share custody of a child with another person, they can have a say in what is going on if your lifestyle, and the people you share it with, negatively impacts their child. That may include your loss of custody if a judge sees it is not in your child’s best interests. 

If you are in a positive, stable relationship, and your partner is a good influence on your child who is benefitting from their presence, that relationship may make your argument for custody stronger. 

Work With Experienced Alimony and Child Custody Attorneys You Can Trust 

No matter which side you are on, if cohabitation becomes an alimony or custody issue, work with an experienced family law lawyer from Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., who has an in-depth understanding of Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws and court procedures. Call us at (215)752-6200 or book a consultation online now

If you and your spouse are on the “same page” (or close to it) on getting a divorce and the major issues it involves, you may be able to move the process into the fast lane (though there is a waiting period here in Bucks County). If you are seeking a no-fault (or mutual consent or uncontested) divorce, after the complaint is filed, you have a 90-day waiting period before it is finalized.  

Pennsylvania has this “cooling off period” after the complaint and notice of process are filed and served on the other party. After the time expires, each party files an Affidavit of Consent stating the marriage is irretrievably broken and that each wants a divorce and asks the court to grant it without a hearing. Also included is a legally binding divorce agreement stating how your issues are resolved. 

If You and Your Spouse Work Together, Your Marriage Could End Quickly 

You and your spouse must agree on all critical issues for a no-fault divorce, including spousal support, child support, child custody, division of property, and debts. These divorces are easier to achieve when the couple: 

  • No longer wants to be married, and they want to end the marriage amicably or at least without extended conflict 
  • Has a valid, enforceable prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that spells out how financial issues will be resolved 
  • Do not have children, so custody and support aren’t issues 
  • Have few assets and or low incomes, which minimize spousal support and asset division disputes 

The spouses must communicate openly before the complaint is filed and agree they want a no-fault divorce. Ideally, disagreements about significant issues should be close to being resolved if not brought to an end.  

You and your spouse need not be on good terms or feel good about each other. But your desire to wrap up your marriage in a short period of time must be greater than a need for conflict or to drag out the inevitable end of your relationship. 

Three months should be enough time to work out your disagreements. It is also long enough to allow the parties to think about what they want and be comfortable with their decisions without feeling rushed. A 90-day deadline can also instill some urgency in parties who may let these issues fester for much more time. 

Plan B If One Spouse Will Not Consent 

If you want to move forward with a no-fault divorce, but your spouse will not consent, you can obtain a divorce decree after you provide evidence that your marriage is irretrievably broken and that the two of you have lived separately and apart for one year.  

Under Pennsylvania law, you can live separately and apart even though you live in the same house. If you establish this separation lasted at least a year, your spouse could dispute that the marriage is irretrievably broken, but the one-year separation is usually enough proof that’s the case. 

If There Is No Need to Delay a Divorce, Why Do So? 

Our attorneys can get to work negotiating your settlement agreement and are ready to advocate for your interests, regardless of what kind of divorce is right for you. We know how difficult this time can be for you, and we will work to create the best possible outcome with the least wasted time. 

Learn more by contacting our office. Call (215) 752-6200, book a consultation, or send us an email. We can meet you in our office or speak with you by phone. 

Some people are honestly surprised when they receive a divorce complaint. Ideally, this is not you because everyone should be prepared for a significant change in their life, no matter what it might be. This is an important step, but far from the final one, in your divorce journey. 

After you have gathered yourself, call us at (215) 752-6200. We have helped thousands of people just like you get through this process as quickly and as painlessly as possible, given their situations. Our Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., attorneys know the law, court procedures, and what you are going through.  

Take Precautions If You Fear for Your Safety 

Pre-divorce relationships run the spectrum. A couple could still deeply, genuinely care about each other but understand their marriage is no longer right for them. A couple might also be unable to stand the sight of each other, and one person, if not both, may engage in physical and emotional abuse. Your marriage may be somewhere in between. 

If you are the victim of domestic violence, you need to protect yourself and your children (if you have them). You should plan on contingencies if this turning point becomes an excuse for violence by your spouse.  

It may be a good sign if your abusive spouse starts the divorce process. Some do not want their marriage ever to end because they want someone to control and torment the rest of their lives. If they want a divorce, this dire situation will end. 

Protect Your Financial Resources 

Part of divorce is the equitable division of marital property. Your debts and assets will be split as a result of an agreement or a trial. The outcome should be fair to you. But that might not be the case if a trial does not go your way, which is one reason most divorce cases resolve through a negotiated settlement. 

You are financially vulnerable if you have bank or investment accounts in both names because your spouse may empty them. Depending on the account, you should withdraw half of the money and set up new ones for yourself.  

Non-marital or personal assets are not subject to division. If you have financial resources that your spouse had nothing to do with (you had them before your marriage or inherited them) but you are both listed as the account holders, withdraw the money and put them in new accounts. If the same is true for your spouse (there are joint accounts with assets that belong to them), you should take the high road and leave them alone. 

You do not know what the final division of the marital property will be. At least some money you are moving around may end up with your spouse, so now is not the time for a spending spree. Just the opposite – you should save up for expenses that come with divorce (some you can plan for, others may be unexpected). 

The Beginning of the End and a Start of Something New 

The divorce filing will not surprise most couples because their relationship has broken down, and they can discuss their marriage’s end. If you are surprised, communications with your spouse have probably gone off the rails. You should try to reach out to them and calmly talk about what they want. 

A divorce will end your marriage, but it will start a new and probably better part of your life. Divorce can be a problem when stressful and challenging, but it will not be if the spouses act and make decisions like mature adults. A divorce is also an opportunity to do something new and better with your life. 

Experienced Divorce Attorneys Who Want to Help 

Work with an experienced Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., family law attorney. Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of New Jersey and Pennsylvania law and how the courts work. We can help make the process go as smoothly as possible. Call us at (215) 752-6200 or book a consultation online now