It is possible to complete a Pennsylvania divorce without hiring a family law attorney to guide you through the process. For some spouses, this makes financial sense; if you are able to amicably work together you may end up saving on unnecessary legal fees. Unfortunately, however, this is not usually the case. Even when a Pennsylvania divorce begins amicably, it doesn't always end that way. More often than not, what we see are spouses with ill feelings and a need to "settle the score."
If you're dealing with a divorce here in Western Pennsylvania and your soon to be ex-wife or ex-husband has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the process of separating can become even more emotionally difficult. So what do you need to know about divorcing from a spouse who suffers from bipolar disorder?
As discussed in Part I of this blog series, in PA the statute of limitations generally precludes an aggrieved party from filing suit for enforcement of a Marriage Settlement Agreement (MSA) if not commenced within the statutes 4-year limitation period. An exception exists, however, when the contract is a "continuing contract." A contract is "continuing" when 1.) There are no deadlines by which payments have to be made; 2.) No specific start date and/or end date when payments are to stop; and 3.) No specific amount owed is identified.
Before a divorce can be finalized in PA, the parties must have completed the process of equitable distribution, or the division of marital assets and debts. If the parties can come to an agreement, one way to accomplish this is through a Marriage Settlement Agreement, more commonly referred to as an "MSA."
It's that time of year again when Pennsylvania residents start thinking about New Year's Resolutions and how we can improve ourselves in 2018. The new year is a chance for a fresh start; some of us vow to start getting our recommended 8-hours of sleep each night, some vow to lose those extra pounds packed on over the year, but no matter what, we are vowing to ourselves to be happy.
Were you holidays ruined because of a fight with your spouse or the lack of clarity in a custody schedule for your children? Did you pass on holiday parties to avoid having family and friends see the tension between you and your significant other? Are you ready to start fresh for 2017? Are you tired of fielding questions at the holiday dinner table about why you're never allowed to spend time with your family? Did you notice a present on the joint credit card statement that didn't end up under the tree this year? If any of this is true about you, it might be time to consider speaking to an attorney about a divorce or other family law proceeding. In a way, we suggest making it your New Year's resolution to give yourself a fresh start and a fresh outlook on life in 2017.
On October 4, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill into law that potentially affects pending Divorce cases all over Pennsylvania. Previously in cases of divorce where one person wants the divorce and the other party does not, the party who wants the divorce cannot obtain one until two years after the date of separation. The mandatory two-year waiting period has created a lot of problems for people wishing to get divorced, including legal fees for attempting to move the process along quicker. The initial goal for the two year waiting period was to allow people the chance to reconcile. On the contrary, the requisite waiting period has arguably in many cases, only served to cause more resentment towards the party who will not consent.
Once a year or so, the article about the man who got an ex parte (without the other party) divorce in the Dominican Republic and did not tell his wife for twenty some years makes the social media rounds. Although this horror story acts as a cautionary tale, many people who read the article are left to question: Could this happen to me? The answer to that is yes...and no. Technically, there is nothing stopping a spouse from doing what this man did and filing for a quick divorce in another county as long as he follows the procedures that are required there. However, in such cases, it would likely be hard for him to enforce any kind of property settlement order or support or custody order. Although each county around the world has different rules of civil procedure, most westernized countries have similar ideas of due process to that of the United States. That means that if your spouse simply wanted to end your marriage, he or she may be able to do that in another country without providing you notice, but is unlikely that they will be able to get an order dividing your property or deciding where you children will live without you being notified and having the opportunity to represent yourself.
A few months ago, we posted about the proposed change to the waiting period for no-fault divorces in Pennsylvania. Specifically, the state legislature was debating whether to shorten the waiting period for contested no-fault divorces in Pennsylvania from two years to one year. Recently, a bill reflecting this change in the law passed the Pennsylvania State House. This law was passed as House Bill 380 and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 4, 2016. This law will go into effect in sixty days (December 4, 2016).
As Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyers, we are frequently asked questions regarding entitlement to alimony. Alimony in Pennsylvania is only available when "economic justice and the reasonable needs of the parties cannot be achieved by way of equitable distribution, or the division of marital assets and debts." An Alimony award is determined after an analysis of statutory factors. If after an analysis of the factors, the Court determines that it is necessary to provide the one party with sufficient income to obtain the "necessities of life." It will award an alimony amount. The purpose of alimony is to attempt to ensure that a spouse who is unable to support himself/herself are provided with reasonable needs.