Choosing to go ahead with divorce is a difficult decision for many people. Trying to navigate our state’s judicial process is an even greater headache. This is where an experienced Doylestown divorce law attorney can be of help.
Petrelli Previtera, LLC, has handled divorces for many men and women. We are trusted advisors who always have our client’s best interest at heart, and we are passionate advocates who can amplify your voice in the divorce proceedings. For help with your case, please contact one of our Doylestown divorce law lawyers today.
“When it comes to responsiveness, our firm goes above and beyond for our client. Find out how we balance compassionate and dedicated advocacy with aggressive legal representation.”
Melinda Previtera, Partner at Petrelli Previtera, LLC.
Before filing a divorce petition, our clients must confirm that they satisfy the residency requirement. Pennsylvania does not allow quickie divorces where people fly in from other states to get divorced. Instead, at least one spouse must have been a resident of Pennsylvania for at least six months. If not, the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.
Our clients also must identify a valid reason to seek divorce, called grounds. Pennsylvania allows couples to mutually agree to a divorce when they believe it has irretrievably broken down. If there is no mutual agreement, a person can file divorce after living separate and apart for at least a year. Alternately, they could seek a “fault” divorce based on a statutory ground.
Deciding What You Want from the Divorce
A divorce unwinds a couple’s financial and familial union. This means that our clients must consider:
- Child custody. If you have children, they must live with someone. Pennsylvania encourages joint custody, where each parent has the legal right to make decisions on vital issues, such as medical care and education. Parents can share physical custody as well, though the child might spend more time with one parent who lives closer to the child’s school.
- Child support. Both parents must continue to support their children after divorce. Pennsylvania’s child support guidelines have taken the guesswork out of determining how much each parent pays.
- Division of marital property. All property acquired while married needs to be divided. Debts, too. A good rule of thumb is that property is considered marital if you acquired it while married. Inheritances and gifts are exempt, remaining the recipient’s separate property.
- Alimony or spousal support. A party can request that his or her spouse make monthly payments during the divorce or after. The purpose of alimony/spousal support is to mitigate the economic hardship a party suffers or to reimburse them for contributions they made to their spouse’s career.
Our clients express greater satisfaction with their divorces if they have thought carefully ahead of time what they want. For example, some people automatically assume they want the family home. However, it can be very expensive to maintain and might be worthless in the long run than other assets, like retirement accounts.
We also counsel clients on what is realistic. For example, you cannot entirely cut your ex out of your children’s lives unless there has been a history of abuse or neglect. Nevertheless, we believe in going into negotiations with as strong a hand as we can.
Negotiating a Settlement
Divorcing couples in Pennsylvania retain the power to draft their own settlement agreement and submit it to the court for approval. Reaching a settlement can speed up a divorce and save money. However, it is not always possible.
To facilitate discussion, many of our clients participate in mediation where a neutral third party helps the couple work through their differences and reach a solution that is agreeable to both. Mediation is sometimes successful at bridging the differences and bringing couples to common ground. Our Doylestown divorce law attorneys can attend mediation with our clients to help them decide whether proposals are in their best interest.
Preparing for a Contested Divorce Hearing
When couples cannot agree to the terms of their divorce, they present the dispute to a judge. With our deep experience in Pennsylvania divorce law, we can effectively advocate our client’s position. We understand how judges make decisions and what law applies:
Child custody. Judges look at what is in the child’s best interest. This holistic analysis is not based on one factor but on many, such as each parent’s ability to support the child and their physical and mental health. A judge will also consider a child’s preferences and other factors.
Child support. Though the guidelines do much of the work, we sometimes advocate for a departure to account for medical or educational expenses.
Division of marital property. Judges divide assets equitably by looking at several factors, such as:
- Each spouse’s age and health
- Each spouse’s employment prospects, including education and income
- The needs of each spouse
- The amount of separate property each spouse has
- The marital standard of living
- Duration of the marriage
- Any contributions each spouse made to the other’s career or education.
No one factor controls the judge’s decision, so our clients benefit from our aggressive advocacy.
Spousal support or alimony. Judges consider many of the same factors that they do when deciding the equitable distribution of property. Our Doylestown divorce law lawyers can make a big difference in whether the judge makes an award or not.
Men have often had an uphill climb to obtain a fair divorce in Pennsylvania. Many old laws and presumptions have historically worked in the favor of women, and some judges are slow to let old habits die. For example, judges used to assume that young children automatically should be placed with mothers. Likewise, many judges had no expectation that women could become self-sufficient with some education or work experience, so they made lifetime alimony awards.
Today, the law is neutral with respect to both men and women. However, some judges still harbor hidden biases. Our attorneys can skillfully protect your rights to a fair hearing and an unbiased decision.
Our Team in Doylestown
Contact a Doylestown Divorce Law Attorney for a Consultation
At Petrelli Previtera, our attorneys bring the same passion and commitment to each case we accept, regardless of how much marital property is in dispute or whether your divorce is simple or complex. We understand that this is a difficult time, and we provide steady guidance to all our clients.
Please contact us today. During an initial consultation, we can listen to you explain your situation and offer helpful advice about how you can get the divorce you need. Call us today or schedule your appointment on our website.