- What happens if we reconcile, and decide to stay together?
If your spouse has filed the petition, he or she may file paperwork with the court to withdraw or dismiss the action. Depending on the situation, both parties may need to sign the paperwork.
- If my ex-spouse is not paying court-ordered child support, can I prevent them from seeing the children?
No, child support and child custody are two separate issues. A relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the children, even if support is not being paid. If your ex is not paying court-ordered child support, legal action must be taken in support court to address the support matter. However, this will not affect his custody rights, which are separate, and which are under the auspices of custody court.
- What if my spouse doesn’t want a divorce?
In a best-case scenario, the parties are each desirous of a divorce, and quickly work out all issues, including property distribution, support and custody. A property settlement agreement is agreed upon, drafted and executed. If all issues are disposed of, the final paperwork to complete the divorce may be filed with the court 90 days after service of the divorce complaint. The divorce can then be processed within a few days, or a week or 2, depending on the court’s turn-around time.
However, if one party is dragging his or her feet…Case management may be requested one year after service of the complaint. Once case management is requested, a hearing before a master will be scheduled. Depending on the county of filing, this initiates a process that may take several months, or, sometimes, even more than a year.
However, if the parties legally separated prior to the divorce complaint being filed, the time frame of filing for case management, and beginning the finalization of the divorce, can be moved up.
- Do I need to hire an attorney if I intend to file for divorce in Pennsylvania?
The short answer is “probably.” If your situation is extremely straight forward, i.e. if there are no assets, no debts, and no children, and you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on everything, you can attempt to file for divorce on your own.
However, the vast majority of divorces are much more complicated than the fact pattern indicated above. Usually, a house needs to be disposed of, along with other assets, or debt exists which requires apportionment. In addition, if minor children are involved, support and custody will likely need to be addressed. Moreover, the forms and procedures necessary to file for divorce can be difficult for a non-lawyer to master.