Tag Archive for: divorce

Depending on the circumstances of your job loss, you may be able to modify the child support order. Unless you are desperate, do not lower your payments without at least the other parent’s agreement until you get court approval. 

What is Child Support? 

Parents must financially support their children until they are 18 or are self-supporting. Generally, the parent with more custodial time receives child support payments from the noncustodial parent. The money must be spent for the child’s benefit.  

If the parents cannot agree on how much should be paid, a judge will decide the issue. A state formula for payments considers the parents’ incomes, the number of children involved, and other factors.  

Can My Payments Be Lowered If I Lose My Job? 

Payments can change if a parent’s income increases or decreases. You can ask a judge to modify your child custody order if it is impossible for you to continue making the planned payments. The judge will need evidence about the facts of your job loss. You have the burden of proving through admissible evidence that a material and substantial change of circumstances occurred since the court order was signed. If a parent’s income was involuntarily reduced and it is not part of a scheme to avoid their child support obligation, a court will consider reducing the support obligation.  

Job loss might not be enough to justify a modification. Child support can be collected from many sources, including unemployment benefits and severance pay. If you genuinely cannot make your payments, pay what you can and explain the situation to the other parent. Acting in good faith may help your attempt to change the child support order. 

Can the Court Expect Me to Pay Child Support If My Income is Cut? 

If the judge finds your evidence does not support your request, or there is evidence you got yourself fired to avoid support payments, you may be stuck making the same payments even though you are not working. The court may “impute” income and maintain your obligations. 

Courts, generally, will not do this if the job loss is not your fault. But, if the court finds you are intentionally underemployed or unemployed to avoid paying support, the judge can impute additional earning capacity when calculating child support payments. It would be what you should earn if you had a full-time position in your field, given your experience level. 

We Can Help You Achieve Your Goals 

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., attorneys believe that, unless the parties agree, no one should receive less child support or be made to pay more support than the law requires. One of our lawyers may obtain a modification of your support payments efficiently and for an affordable fee.  

Whether you are paying or receiving child support payments, if you have questions about modifying a court order or need legal representation, book a 15-minute consultation by filling out our online form

Nearly all family law matters are resolved through agreements, including child support payments. Parents could create a DIY child support agreement. But it is not a good idea if you are the one receiving the payments because you are better protected when the court is involved. 

What is Child Support?  

Child support is a parent’s periodic payment for their child’s financial benefit. This can be done with a private agreement or a court order. Child support payments apply to situations in which the parents never married, the parents are married but living apart, or the parents are divorced. A parent receives the payments, but they are to benefit a child.    

How is the Amount Determined?  

It is based on guidelines established by the state’s Supreme Court. The parents’ incomes are calculated and used in a formula that considers many things, including the number of children. The custodial parent pays child support to help pay for the care of the child. The guidelines are just a starting point, and what is paid could vary significantly depending on the circumstances. 

The parents split expenses based on their incomes and ability to pay. How much is paid is also impacted by whether custody is shared. The amount paid in child support is not always clear-cut because incomes may vary depending on how a parent is paid (hourly, salary, sales commission, bonuses, or a combination). Child support generally continues until a child is 18, but that may be extended depending on the situation. 

Why Not Just Work Out a Child Support Agreement? 

There is not much more work left if an agreement has been reached and reviewed by each party’s attorney. If you are a custodial parent, do not negotiate an agreement without legal help. Your child may be entitled to more support than you realize. 

You could look at court approval as a formality, but that does not make it a waste of time. It adds certainty and protection to the parent receiving the support. There is no guarantee that payments will never stop, come late, or be less than they should be. Court involvement brings a system of enforcement that can benefit your child. 

A child support order protects you in a situation in which the other party does not live up to the agreement. In most orders, when the other parent is a W-2 employee, child support obligations will be attached to their earnings. As long as they are paid, child support will be paid as well. If an order is in place and payments are made directly from one parent to the other, if the payments stop, you can file for enforcement of the child support payments.  

Whether you pay or receive it, if you have questions about child support or need legal representation, call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., 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.  

Alimony is support paid by one ex-spouse to the other. Depending on the circumstances, it can start during the divorce process and last a spouse’s lifetime. Lives change over time, and alimony can too, either with the parties’ agreement or a court order. 

The alimony amount is usually based on the parties’ incomes and is often determined by the couple’s financial situation. The amount may be negotiated up or down in light of how the marital assets are split. 

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., often helps clients with alimony modifications. The only permanent thing is change. An alimony award that may have been fair and reasonable five years ago may need to be changed today. 

What Types of Alimony Are There? 

Alimony is usually considered rehabilitative or reimbursement, though an ex-spouse may get both, based on the case’s facts: 

  • Reimbursement: Alimony that is meant to pay back one spouse for aiding the other with a significant expense, like education or starting a business. 
  • Rehabilitative: This is usually awarded for a given time so the receiving spouse has time and resources to receive training or education to become self-supporting. 

If there is little chance that an ex-spouse will support themselves in the future, the party may be awarded “permanent” alimony. Based on how the parties’ lives play out post-divorce, this “permanent” alimony could stop if the person receiving it remarries or lives with a new partner. 

How Can a Party Modify the Alimony Amount They Pay or Receive? 

Unless they previously agreed otherwise, all types may be modified due to either party’s changed circumstances. It will not be allowed if there is no mention of future alimony modifications in a divorce agreement. 

If one party wants to increase or decrease the payments and cannot resolve the issue with the other, it can be decided in court. Under Pennsylvania law

“An order entered pursuant to this section is subject to further order of the court upon changed circumstances of either party of a substantial and continuing nature whereupon the order may be modified, suspended, terminated or reinstituted or a new order made.”  

When making this decision, a court will consider 17 factors used to determine if alimony is necessary and, if so, the amount when the couple divorced. Some of those factors include: 

  • The parties’ relative earnings and earning capacities  
  • The parties’ ages and their physical, mental, and emotional conditions  
  • The parties’ income sources  
  • The extent the person’s earning power, expenses, or financial obligations will be affected by being a minor child’s custodian  
  • The parties’ standard of living during the marriage 
  • The parties’ assets and liabilities 
  • The property brought to the marriage by either party 
  • The parties’ relative needs 

Common grounds for an ex-spouse paying alimony to try to stop or reduce it include a loss of employment and developing a long-term physical or mental disability. A party receiving alimony could ask for more if the party paying it has a substantial and continuing income increase.  

No matter which side you are on, if you are asking the court to modify alimony payments, there must be evidence to support your claims because there is a process to go through, and you have the burden of proof. Speculation and opinions will not help. We can obtain evidence concerning your position through the discovery process. If necessary, we can also retain experts to analyze what we found. 

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

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.  

A parent would need to have severe problems for a judge in Pennsylvania to order they should have no contact with their child. A more common situation for parents with a criminal record or severe emotional, psychological, or substance abuse challenges is having supervised visitation (or supervised physical custody) during which the parent and child are never alone. 

What is Supervised Visitation or Custody? 

There are many types of custody in Pennsylvania

  • Legal custody: The right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including medical, religious, and educational issues. The parents can share it, or one will have legal custody.
  • Physical custody: The physical possession and control of a child. This could be by one parent (sole physical custody), or it can be shared between the parents. A parent with primary physical custody will have the child with them most of the time, while the other parent will have partial physical custody. 

Supervised physical custody means that either through a court order or an agreement reached by the parents, an agency or an adult monitors the interaction between the parent and child during visits. If a judge believes the child will not be safe when alone with the parent, they may order supervised physical custody.  

Why Would This Be Ordered? 

Custody decisions should be based on the child’s best interests, not what one or both parents want. In these cases, the court balances the importance of the parent having time with the child with the child’s well-being and best interests. 

Pennsylvania law presumes it is in the child’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents. But that has its limits. If the parent’s problems are such that they would harm the child or the parent is indifferent to them, a judge could order that the parent have no custodial rights. Common reasons include: 

  • Domestic violence  
  • Child neglect  
  • Substance abuse  
  • Unmanaged or poorly managed mental illness 
  • Criminal acts  

If the parent’s situation is not as severe and he or she wants to be part of the child’s life, a judge may order supervised parenting time rather than revoking a parent’s custody rights.  

How Would Supervised Physical Custody Work?  

A court order may specify that a particular person be present during this supervised time, such as an extended family member or friend trusted by both parents. If there is no such person, or a judge is uncomfortable with that arrangement, they may decide that a qualified professional supervisor must be present. The setting will be safe for the child, whether at the parent’s home or at a location where there is room for these types of visits. 

If you are the parent wanting to limit your child’s time with the other parent, ending custody rights is a drastic step few judges want to take. Unless the other parent is legitimately a danger to your child, you should be open to supervised physical custody. 

If you are a parent facing challenges in your life, you can still seek custody. If you struggle with being with your child alone, accepting supervised visits may be a good choice. In the meantime, you should actively address your problems and take steps to show you will be a responsible parent. 

A custody order can be amended if one parent shows that circumstances have changed. If the supervised parent: 

  • Does not show up, is intoxicated, is still struggling with psychological problems, or says or does inappropriate things during visits, a judge may end their custody rights. 
  • Is under control, appropriately dressed, actively engaged with the child, and appears to be heading in the right direction, a judge may allow future unsupervised visits. 

Supervised physical custody can be a turning point in the child’s relationship with the parent. Which direction it goes depends on how the supervised parent responds. 

Child Custody Lawyers You Can Trust  

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C. lawyers are skilled in developing compelling legal arguments and evidence that judges need to make wise child custody decisions. If you have questions about supervised visitation or need legal representation, call us at (215) 752-6200 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 involved in a custody dispute, there may be at least one child custody evaluation. It is a psychological assessment involving the parents’ living conditions, family dynamics, mental health problems, and other relevant concerns to recommend what is in your child’s best interests.  

Court-ordered evaluations are usually performed if the parents disagree on custody. If one is done fairly and competently, its recommendation may push the parties to settle on terms consistent with its findings. 

Who Will be Interviewed? 

Court-ordered custody evaluations are established by Pennsylvania and New Jersey court rules. The parties can also commission their investigation. A custody evaluator should interview: 

  • The child 
  • The parents 
  • Other people residing in their homes  

They may also speak to teachers or counselors at school and review relevant medical or psychological treatment records. 

What Will be the Basis of the Evaluator’s Findings?  

The evaluator will consider: 

  • The facts 
  • Their understanding of the parties and the situation 
  • The parents’ views 

The ultimate purpose of the assessment is to determine what custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest. The evaluator will consider the factors the court will use when making a decision, including: 

  • The parents’ stability 
  • The child’s relationship with them 
  • A parent’s drug or alcohol abuse 
  • A parent’s physical, mental, and emotional health 
  • A parent’s willingness to encourage their child to continue their relationship with the other parent 

A custody evaluation could take months and cost several thousand dollars. If the parties cannot agree on who will pay for an assessment ordered by the court, a judge may decide for them. 

How Should I Prepare for the Evaluation? 

You, your child, and any other family members interviewed should not see an evaluation as an invasion of privacy or a burden. It is an opportunity to tell your side of the story and address any concerns the other parent has raised. 

There will be a visit to your home, so put yourself in the evaluator’s shoes. What would you look for? Your home should be clean and neat. Any obvious defects or problems with your home should be repaired. Mow your lawn. Dress neatly and comfortably. 

You are not going to court, but you are not going to the gym, either. 

What Should I Say to the Evaluator? 

To be most effective, those interviewed (especially your child) should be open and honest. You will not be considered credible if you are overly critical of the other parent, appear biased, and are found not to be telling the truth. 

You can maximize your ability to tell your story by: 

  • Discussing your child’s parenting history, including both parents’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Talking about your child, their interests, needs, and any difficulties they have had. 
  • Addressing how your child has changed since you and the other parent separated or the event, if any, that created a perceived need for the evaluation.

You are best served by focusing on your child’s best interests and managing your emotions. Balance stating your legitimate concerns about the other parent while not bad mouthing or bashing them. You should also avoid playing an amateur psychologist by diagnosing them with a condition you think they suffer from. 

What Happens to the Report? 

The findings, including a recommendation, will be in a confidential report to the court that you and your attorney can read. If either party objects to the report, the evaluator can be cross-examined at a trial. If your case does not settle, the judge will probably rely on a court-ordered evaluation when issuing a ruling, but they should be open to fair criticism and legitimate assessments, if any, paid for by the parties. 

Child Custody Attorneys You Can Trust 

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C. attorneys are skilled in developing the evidence that judges need to make child custody decisions. We will work with you to build a persuasive case to achieve your goals and protect your rights. If you have questions about custody issues or need legal representation, call us at (215) 752-6200 today.

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.