A handy guide to divorce, child custody and equitable distribution to help you understand the process.
Divorce in Pennsylvania
Starts with a Complaint alleging marriage is irretrievably broken. Serve on spouse through certified mail or have them sign acceptance of service. File proof of service. Can either be uncontested under 3301 (c) or contested under 3301 (d), If uncontested must wait 90 days from date of service. Then both parties file affidavits of consent and notices of waiver. Next file praecipe to transmit record and wait. If all done correctly Judge will grant decree in divorce usually within 30 days. If contested must wait one year the file notice of intent, serve other side. They have 20 days to object. Must state grounds for objection. Praecipe for All counts conference or whatever is caled for in your county.
Always best to agree on a consented to custody order. If no consent, file Child support complaint. You will then go to some form of conciliation when a hearing officer will attempt to find consent. If no consent eventually goes before a Judge for a pre-trial and eventually full-blown custody trial. Again, makes little to no sense to spend thousands of dollars to let someone who doesn't know you decide when you get to spend time with your kids. Also must consider child support based upon relative income of both parents and percentage of custody. There our support guidelines based upon incomes and if one parent isn't employed or is under-employed it's possible court will impute income based upon earning capacity.
During course of marriage property acquired is marital property subject to equitable distribution. Both assets and liabilities are looked at. One spouse may be entitled to support, APL or alimony based upon length of marriage, earning disparity of parties and many other factors. Always best to agree of division of property through a marriage settlement agreement. Note court will not grant divorce unless custody and equitable distribution are resolved. If no agreement, eventually an all counts conference or some form of conciliation. If no agreement then eventually a trial before a special master of judge.
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