Everything You Need to Know About Contested Divorce in PA
When a couple decides to end their marriage, the divorce process will depend on how the parties handle all the issues related to their divorce. Uncontested divorces are processed much more quickly, are much less complicated, and thus are less costly than contested divorces.
How do you know if your divorce is contested or uncontested? Below, we break down the difference.
The Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorces
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce involves spouses who are able to negotiate a divorce agreement without going to court. These situations are ideal, as they typically cost less and resolve more quickly than contested divorces. When spouses can work through the entire process in an amicable manner, they might be able to reach settlement agreement by mutual consent. In this case, a couple will agree on most issues related to how to divide their assets and address custody, alimony, and support matters.
What does it mean to get a contested divorce in PA?
A contested divorce involves spouses who cannot agree about the terms. Sometimes, they do not even agree that they need a divorce in the first place. In those situations, spouses get the court’s help to resolve their matters.
How a contested divorce process might impact your life and how to prepare for it
You may need to pursue a litigated divorce complaint if any of the following is true:
- You and your spouse are not communicating.
- There is a history of intimidation, bullying, or abuse in your relationship.
- Your spouse is missing.
- Your spouse is acting dishonestly or in bad faith.
- Other factors make it too difficult to reach an agreement outside of court.
Litigated divorce is combative by nature. As a result, this approach involves extra steps to reach a court-ordered resolution.
What Happens When Your Divorce Is Contested?
When a divorce is contested, it means that the parties do not agree on one or more issues such as division of property, spousal support, alimony, child support, and child custody, if there are minor children of the marriage. A contested divorce does not necessarily mean that the issues must be resolved in court. Often the parties can reach an agreement through mediation. This mediated agreement can be submitted to the court, and if the court determines it is fair, the agreement will be adopted, and a divorce decree issued.
Pennsylvania law allows for several approaches to divorce. These include:
- Fault divorce based on one of six grounds
- Mutual consent divorce
- No-fault divorce after one year of separation
- No-fault divorce after one spouse’s institutionalization for a mental disorder
Which approach is best for your divorce depends on your individual situation, A divorce lawyer can help you determine how to proceed.
Related Questions about Contested Divorce in PA
What to do if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers in PA?
If your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, your lawyer may advise that you proceed on fault grounds. In a fault divorce, the spouse who filed must show one of six grounds for divorce. In other words, the other spouse must have done one of the following:
- Maliciously deserted the other spouse for a year or more without a reasonable cause.
- Committed adultery.
- Endangered the life or health of the other spouse with “cruel and barbarous treatment.”
- Knowingly married before ending a previous marriage, called bigamy.
- Been convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment for two or more years.
- Made the other spouse’s situation “intolerable and burdensome.”
A fault divorce is typically more complicated than the no-fault approaches to divorce. In fact, it may seem like an overwhelming battle to prove one of these grounds and prevail in your case. However, with the help of an experienced law firm, it is possible to navigate a fault divorce efficiently and successfully.
How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Pennsylvania?
The duration of a divorce case in Pennsylvania will depend on how quickly the parties can reach an agreement on the issues in dispute.
Factors that can affect how long a divorce case will take in PA include:
- The spouses’ assets, including real estate, cars, businesses, and others
- The spouses’ debts, including outstanding loans, credit card debt, and others
- Whether the spouses filed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
- Whether there are minor children of the marriage
- How quickly the court can review the terms of the divorce, hold hearings, and file any necessary orders
Getting Dependable Legal Help
If you are considering divorce, it is critical to speak with a divorce attorney. Even persons who are considering an uncontested divorce are strongly advised to seek legal counsel to ensure they understand the process. A divorce attorney will explain your rights, advise you on your legal options, and guide you through the process. Contact Petrelli Previtera, LLC at 866-465-5395 to schedule a consultation to discuss your rights.