Our Attorneys Answer the Most Frequent Questions Asked by Divorcing Couples in PA

Individuals facing divorce or those involved in a custody matter, no doubt, have many questions.  In addition, family law matters often cause emotional stress. It is natural to feel alone, lost, depressed or overwhelmed.

Our divorce and custody lawyers are here for our clients.  In addition to providing legal support, we are emotionally supportive of our clients.  We know you have a lot of questions.  Can parents sue for sole custody? How long does it take for a divorce to become final? Can men collect alimony from their wives? Read through our FAQ page to find out what couples are most likely to ask when preparing to separate for good.

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  • How Long Do You Have to Separate Before You Can File for a Divorce in Doylestown, Bucks County?

    Question: I want to get a divorce.  However, my husband does not want to divorce.  In December 2016, I moved out of our home.  Even before I moved out, we were living in our home more like roommates than husband and wife.  It was my understanding when I moved out that I would have to wait 2 years from the date of our separation, i.e., the day I moved out of our home, to file for a divorce from my husband.  But a friend of mine recently told me that I don’t have to wait 2 years.  Is that true?

    Answer:  On December 5, 2016, Pennsylvania law changed with regard to the separation required before filing for a divorce.  The Pennsylvania Divorce Code was amended to reduce the required separation period from 2 years to 1 year.  However, this only applies to separations that commence after December 5, 2016. 

    According to your question, it appears that you physically separated from him some time in December of 2016.  If that date is after December 5, 2016, then you will be able to file for divorce a year after you moved out.  If the date of your separation is prior to December 5, 2016, then you will have to wait 2 years in order to file for a divorce in Bucks County.

    Related:  How Long Will My No-Fault Divorce in Doylestown Take to Complete?

    It is important to note however, that to meet the requirement of being separated, you do not necessarily have to be physically separated.  In fact, even if you were living under the same roof, you and your husband can still be separated under the law.  See definition of “separate and apart” provided below.

    Essentially, you have to cease all aspect of a marital relationship.  You said in your question above that you live separate lives, and were essentially living like roommates prior to physically separating.  In your case, even if you moved out of your home before December 5, 2016, you may have been separated for a period of time before that even though you were living together in the home.  For instance, let’s assume the following scenario.  You moved out of your home on December 1, 2016, but you and your husband were living completely separate lives since June of 2016 when there was a declaration by one of you that you were separated.  You slept in different bedrooms.  You did not eat any meals with him.  You did not talk to him when you were both at home.  You didn’t know his schedule, and he didn’t know yours In such a case, rather than having to wait until December 1, 2018 to file for a divorce, you may be able to file for divorce in June of 2018.   It is important to note, however, that you have the burden of showing that the date of separation was earlier than the date you filed the divorce complaint.

    Without talking to you about your living situation when you and your husband were living in the same home, we cannot properly determine if you were, in fact, separated.  It is best that you call a Doylestown divorce lawyer to discuss your situation, someone who can help you determine whether you and your husband were separated prior to physically moving out of the home.

    Pennsylvania Divorce Code, Section 3103, Definitions

    "Separate and apart."  Cessation of cohabitation, whether living in the same residence or not. In the event a complaint in divorce is filed and served, it shall be presumed that the parties commenced to live separate and apart not later than the date that the complaint was served.

    Related Doylestown, Bucks County Divorce and Custody Articles

    • What You Need to Think About if You Are Facing Divorce in Bucks County – Divorce is not an easy decision for many to come to terms with.  However, divorces have significant impact on parties’ lives emotionally and financially.  Individuals facing divorce want to make sure that they are making the right decisions for themselves and their families.  This article discusses some things individuals need to think about.
    • Doylestown & Newtown Divorces – Equitable Distribution and Marital Debt – One of the issues divorcing couples must deal with is the distribution of their marital assets.  It is important to note that marital debts and liability are also divided in a divorce as well.  How are marital assets and property divided?  How are debts divided? See answers to these questions by Kevin Zlock, a top rated Bucks County divorce lawyer.
    • Relocation Custody Cases in Newtown and Doylestown Bucks County – What steps do custodial parents have to take if they want to relocate?  Can the custodial parent relocate without the other parent’s permission? The answer is no.  If a parent relocates unilaterally, it can significantly affect their parental rights in the future. This article discusses what a parent needs to do if they want to relocate.


  • How to Find the Best PA Divorce Lawyer for My Case? Answer by a Doylestown and Newtown Divorce Attorney

    Divorce is emotionally draining and stressful for all parties, whether it is an amicable divorce or a contentious one. If kids are involved, divorce also has a significant impact on them. Many times, individuals facing divorce are referred to divorce lawyers through their friends or family members.  Although family members or friends know the lawyers, it is a good idea for parties facing divorce to do their research and make sure that they are hiring a divorce lawyer who is best for them.  Below are some tips to help you choose the best Pennsylvania divorce lawyer for your case.

    Make Sure You Feel Comfortable with the Divorce Lawyer

    You want to make sure you feel comfortable with the lawyer.  After all, you are going to be working closely with the lawyer throughout the divorce process.  Your lawyer will know details about your relationship and financial situation.  You want to feel comfortable talking to your lawyer about these issues.  You want to feel that the lawyer is on your side and be confident that he/she will do everything he/she can to help you achieve your goals in the divorce, i.e., custody, child support or spousal support.

    Related: Doylestown & Newtown, PA Divorces – Are You Required to Have a Lawyer?

    Ask Questions

    It is important to ask questions when you meet the lawyer.  Don't be shy or feel embarrassed to ask the lawyer questions.  Below are some questions I encourage you to ask when meeting a potential divorce lawyer.

    What kind of divorce cases do you handle? 

    There are different types of divorce cases.  Some are straightforward, and some are complex, especially when parties have significant assets and/or real estate.  These types of high end divorces have various tax implications and require a divorce lawyer who not only knows divorce laws, but also tax laws.  Therefore, you may want to know if the lawyer has handled divorce cases that are similar to your divorce case.

    Will anyone else be working on my case? If so, what is that person’s level of experience and can I meet them?

    Oftentimes, a party may meet a lawyer at an initial consultation. However, that lawyer may not be the only person handling the case.  That lawyer may have another associate work on the case.  Sometimes, the case may even be handled entirely by another attorney.  While there is nothing wrong with having other attorneys from the firm working on your case, it is important to know who the other lawyers are and to meet them.  You want to feel comfortable with the other lawyer as well.

    Doylestown and Newtown Divorce and Custody Attorneys

    Feel free to contact our PA divorce attorney to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Doylestown and Newtown.

  • Is having an attorney required to get a PA divorce? My spouse and I have decided to divorce, and we are on good terms. The divorce should be relatively simple. Can we file the paperwork ourselves?

    Required? No. Advisable? Maybe.  You can certainly file the paperwork yourselves, but before you do, it is a good idea to at least speak with a PA divorce lawyer about it.  This way, you will be aware of what the issues are and the options available to resolve them. There are many legal nuances that people often don’t know if they are not experienced family law or divorce lawyers.  You may be putting yourself at a disadvantage and end up with a marital settlement agreement that favors one party over the other, without even knowing that it happened this way.  Only after speaking with a divorce lawyer can you properly decide whether you need a divorce lawyer involved or not and to what extent.

    There are a few things you should know if you decide to file the paperwork yourself.  Though the divorce may appear to be straightforward, the logistics of finalizing the divorce may be more complicated than you would think, given the need to comply with Rules of Civil Procedure and other local law requirements.  Thus, you have to be mentally prepared that it may not be as easy as you envisioned even though you and your spouse are on good terms.  Having to go through a divorce is stressful enough.  Having to make sure you completed the right paperwork should not be the source of more anxiety.

    From a practical standpoint, if you don’t file the right paperwork, the divorce process may be delayed.  It is not uncommon that couples who do not hire divorce lawyers have problems completing the forms or inadvertently complete the wrong forms.  Dealing with the resulting problem notices will undoubtedly prolong the divorce process unnecessarily, a problem that can be easily avoided.

    Related: Marital Property & Equitable Distribution in a Bucks County, PA Divorce

    Consider the following example.  A couple living in Doylestown decides to divorce.  The parties are on good terms.  The husband drafts a marital settlement agreement for the wife to sign.  They agree that each party will keep his or her own assets and debts.  However, the agreement does not list the assets or the value of the assets.  The wife signs the agreement, and as it turns out, the husband has significantly more assets than the wife, and wife was completely unaware that such assets existed given the way that the parties managed their finances.  Thus, the wife unknowingly settles for less than what she should receive.  Depending on the terms of the agreement, the wife may be unsuccessful in challenging the marital settlement agreement at a later date, which is why it is important to consider all issues before the marital settlement agreement is signed.

    For all of the above reasons, it is advisable to talk to a PA divorce lawyer to make sure you are protecting your interests.

    Feel free to contact our PA divorce lawyers to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Doylestown and Newtown.