It is not uncommon for someone to be unaware of the ins and outs of divorce unless they work with the subject on a day-to-day basis. Because of this, if a divorce is something you are considering, you likely have many questions such as: what is involved with a divorce, how are the family assets and liabilities divided, how is support handled, how is child custody determined, how long does the process take, etc. 

Due to the complex nature of divorce, and because every divorce is unique, we highly advise that you lean on an experienced divorce attorney to help you through your divorce process.  In the meantime, below are a few of the most common divorce questions and their answers.

What is the difference between a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce?
A contested divorce is one where the couple cannot agree on one or more matters themselves while an uncontested divorce is one where the couple can come to an agreement about those matters before the court rules on the pending issues. In most cases, uncontested divorces can save time and money through streamlined court procedures and agreements as to issues facing the parties.

What is a high net worth divorce?
A high net worth divorce has traditionally been defined as a divorce involving more than one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) in assets. The divorce case involving Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO, and his wife MacKenzie shows how extensive the division of property, stocks, and other assets can be. If you are wondering what makes a high net worth divorce stand out from a typical divorce, read more on our blog.

What is a “no fault” divorce?
A “no fault” divorce is a divorce where neither party is trying to prove that the other party did something wrong, aka neither was at fault in the marriage.  Pennsylvania is a “no fault” state, meaning spouses can obtain a divorce when the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and the parties have either lived separate and apart for at least one year or consented to a divorce. On the other hand, a fault divorce may be shown where one party is “innocent,” and the other has engaged in desertion, adultery, cruel and barbarous treatment, bigamy, indignities, or has been imprisoned for a crime. Fault divorces are very rare in Pennsylvania as time and money can be saved by moving forward pursuant to the no fault requirements. 

How is child custody determined?
Although Pennsylvania judges apply a set of statutory factors, the courts make their custody determinations based upon a “best interests of the children” standard.  The statutory factors include:   

  • Which parent is the primary caregiver?
  • Is the parent psychologically and physically capable of raising the child?
  • What is the quality of the relationships between the child and the parent, siblings, and others who may have access to the child?
  • What is the child’s preference (depending on the child’s age and/or maturity)?
  • Can the parent adequately provide for the child?
  • Does the parent have a history of abusing or neglecting the child?

How long does the divorce process take?
The answer here can vary based on your situation and the route you take for your divorce. If a settlement can be reached, a divorce can be concluded within approximately four months.  If the case must be litigated in court, the process may take over a year or more.

Will I have to pay alimony?
If you have earned or are earning substantially more money than your spouse and you’ve been married for several years, you may be required to pay monthly alimony after you are divorced, depending on the other spouse’s income and reasonable needs. Learn more about alimony obligations.

Related: Learn more about divorce including how to start the divorce process.

If divorce is a new topic for you, getting your head wrapped around it can be difficult. These top questions and answers can help you feel more prepared, along with contacting an experienced divorce attorney you can trust. To learn more about what our experienced attorneys at Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby can do to help you, contact us online or call our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at 412-261-4040.

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