There are a number of stages in the formal divorce process in Pennsylvania. First is the filing of the divorce complaint, then there is a mandatory waiting period of at least 90 days during which a divorce may not be finalized, and at some time after that, a divorce will be finalized with the entry of a divorce decree. A divorce decree, generally speaking, extinguishes all of the rights that you had because of the marriage. Of the rights that a decree extinguishes is the right to make a request for alimony and division of the marital assets.
After a divorce complaint is filed, the defendant (the party who did not file) can request that the court divide the marital assets and/or make an award of alimony, if these have not already been requested by the plaintiff when the complaint was filed. If a divorce proceeds through the process without these claims being raised and a divorce decree is entered, then the parties will forever lose the right to request division of marital assets or alimony.
During a divorce, it is important to ensure that all of the claims that you want to make are fully resolved before a divorce decree is entered. There are very limited circumstances under which a divorce decree can be undone, and those circumstances do not apply in the vast majority of cases.
By: John M. Schaffranek, Esq.