Philadelphia Divorce Attorney
Divorce is often one of the most emotionally difficult experiences a person will go through, and it is critical to have an experienced Philadelphia divorce attorney on your side throughout the process. Even if you believe you have reached an agreement with your spouse concerning all aspects of your case and you are anticipating an uncontested divorce, you should nonetheless have a lawyer on your side at all times. Divorce can get complicated and messy, and tensions can run high unexpectedly. One of the advocates at van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin can speak with you today about your divorce.
Grounds for Divorce in Philadelphia
Under Pennsylvania law, a party filing for divorce can either file for divorce on fault-based grounds or can file for a no-fault divorce.
For a fault-based divorce, the party who files must prove the fault-based grounds for divorce, which are listed explicitly in Pennsylvania statutory law. Examples of some of the fault-based grounds for divorce include but are not limited to:
- Criminal conviction with a term of imprisonment;
- Bigamy; and
- Willful and malicious desertion.
For a no-fault divorce, the parties must have lived separate and apart for at least one year, and the party filing for divorce must plead in the complaint that “the marriage is irretrievably broken.”
Common Issues in a Philadelphia Divorce Case
Many different types of legal issues arise in a divorce case under Pennsylvania law. The Philadelphia divorce lawyers at our firm regularly assist clients with all of the following:
- Filing for divorce;
- Division of marital property;
- Complex property classification and division;
- High asset divorce issues;
- Child custody;
- Child support; and
- Modifications to existing divorce orders.
Division of Marital Property in Philadelphia
Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state in terms of the division of marital property. In a divorce, all property owned by the parties will be classified as marital or nonmarital (or separate) property. Only marital property, which includes both assets and debts, will be distributed between the spouses in a way that the court determines to be fair to both parties. Courts will look at a variety of factors in determining what kind of division is equitable, or fair, to both spouses.
Typically, the only property that will be classified as separate property, and thus not subject to division, will include:
- Property acquired by either spouse prior to the date of the marriage;
- Property acquired by only one of the spouses through a gift or inheritance during the marriage; or
- Property purchased or acquired during the marriage with separate property.
Alimony and Spousal Support in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Alimony and spousal support in Pennsylvania have different meanings depending upon the type of support. Spousal support is financial support that one of the spouses can seek after a separation but prior to filing for divorce. Courts assess whether spousal support is appropriate given the facts of the case, and then courts use guidelines to determine the appropriate spousal maintenance award.
Alimony can be awarded as alimony pendente lite, which is a temporary form of spousal support award during the divorce process, while alimony is spousal support paid by one spouse to the other after the divorce is finalized.
Child Custody and Support Matters
When a couple has minor children from their marriage, their divorce will need to make child custody and child support determinations. Child custody includes both legal custody and physical custody, which can be granted as sole custody for one of the parents or shared custody for both parents.
Your Philadelphia divorce attorney can help with child custody and child support obligations.
Minor Children from the Marriage in Your Philadelphia Divorce
If you have minor children from your marriage, your divorce case will need to involve child custody and child support. Under Pennsylvania law, courts award both legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody means making important decisions about the child’s upbringing, while physical custody refers to the amount of time the parent spends with the child. When the court awards child custody, it looks at a variety of statutory factors to determine what kind of child custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
When spouses have minor children from the marriage, a divorce case will also require a child support determination. Like many states, Pennsylvania uses an “income shares” model to calculate the child support obligations of each parent. To be clear, the court will combine the parents’ incomes and then, based on that total amount, will use guidelines to determine the total child support obligation. Once the court determines the total obligation, it looks to different factors to determine each parent’s percentage of that obligation.
Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Divorce Attorney
Do you have questions about divorce in Philadelphia, or do you need assistance with your divorce case? You should have one of our experienced Philadelphia divorce attorneys on your side to advocate for your rights and to ensure that your voice is heard. Whether you have specific concerns about property division or you are particularly worried about child custody issues, our firm is here to assist you. Contact van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin to learn more about the services we provide to clients in and around Philadelphia.