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7 Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

Divorce can be a very emotional time for you, your spouse, and your children. We have put together the top most common questions clients ask when they first contemplate a divorce or first meet with a divorce attorney. The major topics include spousal/child support, timing, division of assets, child custody, and cost of divorce. The answers provided are based on Pennsylvania state family law statutes.

How Long Will My Divorce Take?

In an uncontested divorce case in Pennsylvania, you can be divorced in as little as 90 days. However, this is rare. How long a case takes depends on the amount of assets to divide, the animosity of the parties, schedule of hearings, potential trials, and how many issues are contested between the parties. The more cooperation between the parties and the experience of a great divorce attorney can help your case move along faster.

Can I Receive Spousal Support During Pending My Divorce?

Spousal support is greatly dependent on your financial status and ability. The court will take into consideration the current earnings of each party and whether an unemployed party has the ability to work. A divorce attorney can assist you if you feel unable to work and need support during the process.

How Are Assets Divided?

Pennsylvania is a no-fault equitable distribution state. No fault means that parties that are “at fault” for the marriage ending are not punished by receiving less. So if your spouse cheats on you, this is not a reason to receive more assets. Equitable distribution means that assets are divided as the court deems fair. This is not a 50/50 system, one party may receive more assets to balance out any inequalities.

How Is Alimony Assigned?

Pennsylvania family law does not require spousal support to be given automatically. Courts look to several different factors in order to determine whether to award alimony. A skilled divorce attorney can go over the factors with you and approximate what you may have to pay or receive. The factors the court uses are:

  • Need and ability to pay

  • Length of marriage

  • Age, mental and physical health of both parties

  • Standard of living during the marriage

  • Earning capacity, education level, vocation skills, and employability of both parties

Who Decides Custody of The Children?

If parties cannot come to a custody schedule on their own, the court will determine custody based on the children’s best interest. It is highly encouraged to not let the court decide custody. A custody hearing is long, costly, and emotionally draining on families. Parents are required to testify, evaluations are performed, experts are used, and sometimes the child is required to testify to his or her feelings about their parents. Working with a divorce attorney can help avoid this step.

How Does a Court Decide Child Support?

A specific formula found in the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines is used to determine child support. Some factors that are considered include earnings and expenses, number of children, and amount of time with each parent. If a significant change in circumstances occurs, this necessitates a modification of the child support order.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Pennsylvania?

The cost of your divorce depends on many factors. Some of these factors include how many assets you have to divide, the complexity of the case, contested or uncontested, and cooperation between the parties. The more hearings your attorney has to attend, the more expensive your bill becomes. The average attorney bills at $270/hour, and the average divorce costs $14,300 in the state of Pennsylvania.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.