Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer Near Me
You knew this day was coming. Now that you have decided to start the divorce process, there are many short- and long-term issues to work out. Who will get custody of the kids? Should you move out of your house? Will you owe spousal support or child support? Our Philadelphia divorce attorneys have worked with clients in similar situations. Our team understands the uncertainty you face during this challenging time. Hiring a divorce lawyer early can help ease some of these pains and help you get your life back on track.
Get Prestigious Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers on Your Side
To get the legal assistance you need, you can reach a Philadelphia Divorce attorney with Petrelli Previtera at (215) 399-2355.
Our lawyers have shown skill and success as both negotiators and litigators through the years—and we have awards to prove it. Our firm has consistently won top-notch recognition including:
- Super Lawyers
- The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40
- Martindale-Hubbell’s Gold Client Champion Award
- Kev’s Best list of the ‘5 Best Divorce Attorneys in Philadelphia’
- ThreeBestRated’s list of the 3 Best Divorce Lawyers in Philadelphia, PA
- Inc. 5000 Mentionee
- And many more!
During our first meeting, we will define your goals and any issues you may face, such as parental rights and division of property. We will answer your questions and give you the best advice about the divorce process in Pennsylvania and protecting your assets. If you have decided to divorce, we’re here for you. Call today to get answers to questions about your situation and schedule a consultation to discuss your options.
Our Divorce Services
Our practice is dedicated to helping clients end marriages efficiently and successfully.
Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, our law firm can identify the right strategy for a great outcome. We will work with you to resolve related family law issues regarding child custody and child support, alimony, and property division.
Custody in Pennsylvania has two parts: legal custody and physical custody. The first involves the right to have a say in important areas regarding the child’s upbringing, including education, extracurricular activities, and medical care. Physical custody involves being able to choose where the child will live.
Pennsylvania judges award custody based on what is in the child’s best interest. There is no simple yardstick judges use. Instead, they look at many factors, including which parent is likely to encourage the child to maintain a relationship with the other parent, and which parent can provide a stable home environment. Other factors include the child’s relationship with siblings and the child’s preference, depending on age and maturity.
Custody can take many forms:
- Joint (or shared) physical custody: each parent has the child with them for at least 35% of the time.
- Primary physical custody: this parent has the majority of the time with the child.
- Partial physical custody: this parent has a minority of time with the child.
- Sole physical custody: the parent has exclusive physical possession of the child.
- Shared legal custody: parents jointly make decisions for the child.
- Sole legal custody: one parent has the sole power to make decisions about the child’s upbringing.
Custody determinations are very difficult. We encourage people to meet with a Pennsylvania divorce attorney for more information.
Pennsylvania has standardized child support determinations by implementing guidelines that look at certain factors, such as the parent’s combined net income and the number of children that need to be supported. Parents contribute a monthly amount based on their amount of physical custody. Often, child custody involves the parent with partial physical custody cutting a check to the parent who has primary physical custody.
The guidelines have removed considerable confusion regarding child support. Nevertheless, some gray areas remain. High-income parents might end up paying more if they earn more than $30,000 a month. Extreme expenses can also be a reason for Judges to depart from the guidelines. Our Philadelphia divorce lawyers will make the strongest argument possible for fair child support obligations.
Division of Marital Property and Debts
Pennsylvania is an equitable division state. This means that marital property must be divided fairly by a judge. There are some key exceptions, such as where the couple has signed a valid prenuptial agreement, in which case the agreement can dictate the division of property.
Marital property is distinct from separate property, which each spouse can take with them when they exit the marriage. Property is typically classified as marital if it was acquired after the marriage. It does not matter whose name is on the deed or title.
Marital property can cover a wide variety of assets, including:
- Real estate
- Home furnishings
- Retirement accounts
- Wages earned
- Investment accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Business interests
Many small business owners are surprised to discover that their business can be considered marital. For example, a dentist might start a practice, growing it over the course of several years without any input from her spouse. However, if the business was started after getting married, then it is probably marital, and the spouse is entitled to a share of the value.
Judges make a fair distribution of property by looking at many factors:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s age and health
- Each spouse’s education and income
- The contribution one spouse made to the other’s education and/or career
- Each spouse’s separate assets and debts
- The needs of the spouses
- Other relevant factors
Judges have wide discretion in this area, so hiring a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer who can make a compelling argument on your behalf is key to success.
Spousal Support & Alimony
Alimony and spousal support can be crucial lifelines for a lower-earning spouse, who could see a substantial drop in living standards after separation. Generally, spousal support and alimony are monthly payments one spouse makes to the other. During the pendency of the divorce, these payments are called “spousal support.” Once the judge grants a divorce decree, these payments are called “alimony.”
There is no automatic right to either spousal support or alimony in Pennsylvania, but judges do have the discretion to award it.
Unlike child support, a spouse can bargain away any claim for alimony as part of settlement negotiations. A spouse could also have waived alimony in a prenuptial agreement, which a judge will enforce.
Many factors go into a judicial determination of whether to award alimony and the amount. Many of the factors are the same that go into determining the equitable distribution of marital assets. We have found that some judges are more willing to award alimony or spousal support than others, so we target our strategy to the specific judge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding Divorce Law in Philadelphia
What are the common approaches to divorce in Philadelphia, PA?
- Mutual consent divorce – a type of divorce where both spouses agree to end the marriage.
- No-fault divorce – a divorce option where neither spouse blames the other, possible after a year of separation.
- Fault divorce
- Divorce due to institutionalization – where the divorce occurs because one spouse has been in an institution for a significant time.
Each of these types of divorce has different requirements and a timeline.
Some divorcing spouses can reach an agreement outside of court. Others need the help of a judge to resolve their divorce. Some may rely on or need help enforcing a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement.
Can I meet with a Divorce Lawyer near me?
What Are The Steps to Identify and Locate Marital Assets?
Identifying Property and Assets in Your Philadelphia Divorce
One initial step in a divorce is to identify and locate all assets and property that belong to the spouses. Items bought during the marriage, known as marital property, include things like the family home, cars, and bank accounts. It can also include rental units or even vacation homes. For many couples, it involves at least some bank accounts and vehicles. Assets that will need to be divided during divorce can include:
- A family business
- Business benefits
- 401k accounts
- Stock options
- Real estate
In Pennsylvania, the law follows ‘equitable distribution’ for dividing assets, which means the court aims for a fair division based on various factors, rather than a strict 50/50 split. This considers the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions, and future financial needs.
Complex Assets to Discuss with Your Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer
Dividing complex assets during a divorce and reaching a mutually agreeable separation agreement can be challenging. Such assets might be military retirement accounts, stock options, restricted stock, expensive collectibles, cryptocurrency and intellectual property rights. Assessing the value of these assets can feel overwhelming, particularly if there are concerns about hidden assets or undervalued businesses or properties.
Separate Property in A Philadelphia Divorce
Under Pennsylvania law, certain assets can be excluded from the fair division process. Some assets, known as ‘non-marital’ or separate assets, might not need to be divided. These could include gifts or inheritances received individually.
How do I find the best divorce attorney for me?
Ending a marriage can be overwhelming. There are many decisions to be made. Their job is to reduce your stress as you take steps toward a better future.
But, first, you have to hire an attorney. Here are six tips that can help you find the best lawyer for your divorce:
Choose a family law attorney.
A family law attorney will have the knowledge needed to represent you efficiently. For example, our divorce attorneys are experienced in handling contested and uncontested divorces, our legal team regularly supports clients with issues of child custody and child support, alimony, and asset distribution.
You may be able to get referrals from attorneys, clergy, accountants, and counselors, as well as divorced friends and family members.
Do your research.
One you have referrals, check the Divorce Lawyer’s credentials. Make sure the lawyers you are considering are members of the PA Bar Association. You may also want to check the attorney’s LinkedIn profile and AVVO rating. AVVO has ratings, reviews, and disciplinary records for lawyers in every state.
Choose an attorney with experience handling divorces like yours.
If you are going through a contentious divorce, you will want an attorney with courtroom experience. If you and your spouse have considerable assets, you may want to work with an attorney who has access to a forensic CPA or appraiser.
Interview your top choices.
The interview gives you a chance to meet the attorney and get their legal opinion. This is an opportunity for you to see how you will get along with the attorney. You should choose a lawyer who speaks to you English, not legalese. If you don’t feel comfortable, choose another lawyer.
Choose an attorney you can trust.
Since you will share personal information, the divorce attorney should be someone you trust and feel comfortable with. If you don’t like an attorney, choose someone else.
Do I need a Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer?
If I’m not ready to file for divorce, can I seek a legal separation?
How long do divorce cases take to complete?
How much will my divorce cost?
What do lawyers do in a divorce?
What is the difference between contested versus uncontested divorce
- Child custody
- Child support
- Division of marital property and debts
- Spousal support (alimony)
If you can agree on these issues, you can submit a settlement agreement for the court’s approval. This type of uncontested divorce can save many people considerable expense.
However, an uncontested divorce is not feasible for everyone, even if they participate in mediation in good faith. Instead, they will need a court hearing where the judge will decide the details of the divorce decree. And to succeed in a contested hearing, you should hire a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer to represent you.
Get Support From Award-Winning Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers
Petrelli Previtera has consistently been recognized as one of the premier divorce firms in Philadelphia. Our founding and managing partner, Thomas Petrelli Jr., has earned the highest possible rating of 10/10 from Avvo. But that’s just the beginning. With over 200 five-star client reviews and a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies, Petrelli Previtera is highly recommended by our satisfied clients. We are dedicated to helping our divorce clients achieve freedom and a better life post-divorce.
When you need the best Philadelphia divorce attorneys by your side, you can trust us. Our team consists of esteemed, top-notch attorneys who are ready to protect your interests and fight for you. To schedule an appointment, please call (215) 399-2355.
Contact A Philadelphia Divorce Attorney for Assistance
Petrelli Previtera, LLC, has established itself as a leading divorce firm in Pennsylvania with offices across the state. Our Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers have years of experience representing clients and can provide legal advice to help you move on to the next phase of your life. If you’re ready to discuss your legal options, let’s get started by scheduling a confidential consultation. Contact us today to schedule your confidential consultation. You can call us or schedule your own appointment on our website.
Our law office is centrally located at 1845 Walnut Street, 19th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103, right on Rittenhouse Square, with easy access to PATCO, close to the Family Law Courthouse at 1501 Arch Street, and near City Hall. Our family law firm has been providing compassionate legal counsel to clients in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas since 2017.
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Call (215) 399-2355 to speak with a member of our legal team.