Couples in Doylestown contemplating divorce often have many concerns and questions. In this blog, our Doylestown divorce lawyers answer some common questions.
1. Do I need a divorce lawyer in Bucks County?
Even if you and your spouse are going through an amicable divorce, it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected and the spirit of any agreement dividing the marital estate is carried out appropriately. Divorce has serious legal and financial consequences that you and your spouse may not be aware. The assistance of counsel can help you avoid any pitfalls and ensure your intent for the division of the martial estate is implemented appropriately.
Couples can file for a divorce in Bucks County themselves without the help of a lawyer. This generally happens with couples who are on good terms with each other and/or have previously divided their marital assets and debts. However, if a settlement agreement is required to divide the marital estate, it is a very good idea to have a lawyer for each party look over the agreement. The Court requires certain provisions which can drastically affect the settlement agreement’s enforceability and survival post-divorce. Given the complexity of the law, it is a good idea to involve an attorney with the drafting of any settlement agreements. Even absent a settlement agreement, the Court is very particular regarding procedure and the format of documents filed and requires the appropriate documents be filed at the appropriate time. Couples filing by themselves often find themselves re-drafting and re-filing documents due to these format and procedural requirements. Unless you are familiar with the format and procedure, it may be best to hire an attorney to draft and file the documents on your behalf.
For couples who have significant marital assets such as real estate, businesses, investments, etc., dividing assets can be complicated. In such situations, you want to make sure you are making the best decisions for yourself when dividing marital property and assets. Even couples who are on the best terms with each other should have a lawyer guide them through equitable distribution.
2. How long does a divorce take?
How long it takes for a divorce to be completed depends on your situation and a variety of factors. A Doylestown divorce can be simple and straightforward, but it can also be complicated, which would prolong the divorce process.
In the best case scenario, a divorce can take 4 to 5 months to complete. This can happen in a no-fault divorce where the parties mutually consent to a divorce. In such a case, after a divorce complaint is filed, there is a 90-day waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. After the 90-day waiting period is over, each party must file an affidavit consenting to the divorce. If there are no other issues, such as alimony, spousal support or property division, the parties would then file appropriate paperwork to allow the judge to grant and issue a divorce decree without a court hearing.
3. How long do I have to be separated from my spouse before I can file for divorce in Bucks County?
Pursuant to Pennsylvania divorce law, if a couple has been separated and apart for 1 year or more, either party may file a divorce complaint based on the ground that the marriage is irretrievably broken. It is important to note that separate and apart does not necessarily mean physically apart. A couple who is living under the same roof can still be living separate and apart so long as they both know they are officially separated and are no longer living as a married couple.
The judge would issue a divorce decree if the non-filing party does not deny that the parties were separated for 1 year and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Even if the non-filing party denies the separation or that the marriage is irretrievably broken, a judge can still grant a divorce after holding a hearing addressing these claims.