601 N. 3rd Street
Reading, PA 19601
Phone: (484) 648-1236   Fax: (484) 335-9908
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 Divorce is a difficult decision. Navigating the court system can be even more difficult. An Attorney can not only help protect your rights, but can also make the situation less stressfull.

                                 General Information:

Before you can file for divorce in Pennsylvania, you and/or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months. If a divorce is by consent, the matter will be ripe for the court to grant a divorce three months after the service of the complaint on the other party. If only one spouse wants a divorce and the parties have been living separate and apart for at least two years, a divorce may be granted if the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Both of these are NO-FAULT grounds for divorce. Before someone can obtain a FAULT divorce, two things must be proven. First, you must prove that you are the “innocent and injured”  spouse, and second, that the misconduct by the other spouse has caused the marriage to breakdown. Allowable grounds for fault divorce are specified by law, and include adultery, desertion, indignities (violence), bigamy, insanity, etc.

                             Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What should I do if I am served with a Divorce Complaint?
A divorce action begins with a complaint filed in court and is served on the person against
whom it is filed. If you do not respond, the divorce may proceed without you being represented or having your rights protected. You should consult an attorney immediately upon receiving a divorce complaint.

2. What Is A Legal Separation?
Technically, there is no such thing in Pennsylvania as a “legal separation.” Separation simply means that you and your spouse are living separate and apart, whether under the same roof or otherwise. Separation may occur by mutual consent or by one of you leaving or being expelled from your home. Under some circumstances, you may be considered separated even though you and your spouse are still living in the same residence.

3. Can I Stop My Spouse From Entering Our Home?
Your spouse has a right to be on and in the property that you both own or rent unless a court decides otherwise. If you lock your spouse out, he or she may be able to take appropriate action to regain entry to the property.

4. What If My Spouse Has Abused Me?
If there has been actual or threatened abuse, your spouse may be ordered by the court through a protection from abuse to leave your residence and to stay away for a time frame that is established by the court.

5. What Is A Separation And Property Settlement Agreement?
After a husband and wife separate, especially if they intend to divorce, it is desirable for them to enter into a written agreement to provide for:
• division of real estate and personal property;
• support, if any, payable to the dependent spouse and
• responsibility for debts and legal fees;
• health and life insurance arrangements; and
• custody and visitation of children

Also included are many other items which set forth the mutual rights and duties of the two people. This agreement is a contract, but may be enforced as though it is an order of the court. Certain provisions in the agreement concerning visitation and child support can later be modified by the court if circumstances change.  The agreement is written by
the attorneys representing you and your spouse following negotiations.

6. What Is Marital Property?
The Divorce Code provides that all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, with certain exceptions like gifts and inherited property, is marital property, regardless of in whose name the property is held. This includes pensions, 401k's and other retirement funds. It should be noted that the increase in value during the marriage of gifts through third parties, inherited property, and premarital property that remain in one party’s name, will also be considered marital. Marital property, if not divided in the separation agreement, may be divided equitably by the court.

7. Can The Court Require Counseling?
Yes. The court may require up to three counseling sessions with a qualified counselor, if either spouse requests it.

8. How Quickly Can My Divorce Be Finalized?

For a no fault divorce, Pennsylvania has a waiting period of 90 days before a final decree can be requested from the Court. This designated amounts of time is to assure that reconciliation isn't possible. At the other end of the time spectrum a contested divorce can last years with the average contest lasting a year or more. Most contested divorces arise from property division disputes.

9. Will A Custody Battle Slow Down My Divorce?
No. Although a count for custody may be included in your divorce complaint, the court system addresses divorce and custody seperately. The custody "portion" of your case can be completed long before or after your divorce "portion" is completed.

10. Can Both Parties Use The Same Lawyer?
No.  An Attorney can only represent one party. Sometimes, the parties decide that only one of them will retain an attorney. The attorney then prepares any paperwork or agreements, giving advice only to the party that has retained the attorney's services. The unrepresented party must seek another Attorney if they need legal advice or if they have questions about any of the paperwork they are requested to sign.


*Some of the information contained herein is provided compliments of Consumer Legal Information Pamphlets by the PENNSYLVANIA BAR ASSOCIATION. The pamphlets are made available to you as a public service of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Visit their Web site at for a list of other pamphlets.