Butler County Divorce Procedures
In Butler County, Pennsylvania an action for divorce begins with a Butler County Divorce Attorney preparing a Complaint in Divorce, filing it at the Butler County PA Courthouse, and serving it upon the defendant in the divorce action by certified mail. The Pennsylvania Divorce laws require that spouses come to an agreement regarding the division of the marital property and debts or that an order for equitable distribution of the marital assets and liabilities be entered by the court prior to the entry of a PA Divorce Decree. Most marital property division cases are settled with a Consent Order of Court or a written Marriage Settlement Agreement. However, when parties to a PA divorce cannot come to an agreement, the Court will conduct the Equitable Distribution process. The process begins with the Beaver County Divorce Lawyers filing a formal listing of the marital property and debts and then, upon motion by either party's Beaver County Divorce Attorney and payment of Master's fees, the case will be assigned to a standing Master in Divorce.
Prior to the case being heard by a Master, a Pre-Trial Conciliation Conference will be held by the Butler County Family Court Judge and will be attended by the Butler County Divorce Lawyers for both parties. The conference is an attempt by the Butler County PA Judge to mediate the differences between the divorcing Butler County spouses regarding division of marital property and alimony. If unsuccessful, the matter proceeds to a hearing before a Butler County Divorce Master whose recommendation to the Butler County Family Court Judge will become a Final Order unless either divorcing spouse files timely Exceptions to the Master's recommendation. If exceptions are filed, the judge will issue a Final Order.
Butler County Support Procedures
In Butler County, PA a Complaint for Support must be filed with the Butler County Domestic Relations Section to begin an action for child support, spousal support, alimony pendente lite (APL), or alimony. If the parties and their Butler County Support Lawyers are unsuccessful in settling the support issues, a support conference will be conducted by a Butler County Hearing Officer. The object of the conference is to attempt to reach a settlement through mediation and, as such, all parties must be present. If an agreement is reached at the support conference, the terms will be confirmed and the parties will sign a Consent Butler County Court of Common Pleas Order of Court.
In the event an agreement cannot be reached, a Recommendation will be made by the Butler County Hearing Officer based on the PA Support Guidelines. An appeal of the Recommendation can be made by filing a Request for a de novo hearing and requesting that the matter be heard by a Butler County Family Court Judge. The Recommendation made by the Hearing Officer remains in effect as an interim order pending the final Order of Court from the Butler County Judge.
Butler County Child Custody Procedures
In Butler County, all actions for child custody, including partial custody, visitation, grandparents' rights, relocation, enforcement, contempt, or modification of an existing custody order, begin with the filing of a Custody Complaint or Petition by a Butler County Child Custody Attorney. Butler County Family Court rules require that all parties to any child custody action register and attend the education seminar for divided families within five (5) days of service of a Child Custody Complaint unless previously completed.
Thereafter, a Custody Conference will be held in approximately 30 days wherein the Butler County Custody Conciliator will attempt to use the mediate an agreement with the assistance of the child custody attorneys and upon consent of the parties. A vast majority of child custody cases in Butler County are resolved through the mediation process at the Custody Conference. If no agreement is reached, the Custody Conciliator will file a report with the assigned Butler County Family Court Judge which becomes a temporary Order between the parties. The Conciliator's temporary order may include recommendations for child custody psychological evaluations, home studies and drug and alcohol evaluations.
Within 30 days of a conciliation where no agreement was reached, either party may request a date for a Pre-Trial Conference with the assigned judge. The judge will review the child custody psychological evaluation report with the Butler County Child Custody Lawyers and make recommendations for settlement in an attempt to mediate the dispute. If unsuccessful, a custody trial shall be scheduled by the judge.
Children should not attend the Butler County custody conciliation or any pre-trial conferences unless an Order is entered specifically requiring their presence. In some cases, children may be required to testify in a child custody trial; however, each case is unique and this decision must be made considering the best interests of the minor children including their age and whether the benefits of their testimony would outweigh the harm of forcing them into the middle of the child custody court action.
Our Butler County Family Law Attorneys
Our Butler County Family Law Attorneys will guide you through the process of obtaining a PA Divorce Decree as well as resolving any associated matters such as division of marital property through Equitable Distribution or agreement, Child Support, Spousal Support, Alimony, and all types of Child Custody cases including establishing an initial order, modification, enforcement, relocation, contempt of child custody court orders, and grandparents' rights.
To learn more about our Pennsylvania family law firm, and to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our experienced Butler County family lawyers, call us today at 725-776-9906, toll free at 855-VARI-LAW (855-827-4529) or send us an e-mail. Our Cranberry Township family law office is open by appointment only while our Pittsburgh and Southpointe offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and evenings by appointment.