DIVORCE ATTORNEY IN PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA
Divorces are a time of emotional and financial frustration. Not only are you ending a chapter of your life, but you're also dealing with child custody, spousal support, and division of assets. Navigating these uncertainties can be overwhelming without the help of legal guidance. If you need an experienced divorce attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, depend on our team at Smith Law to provide you with dependable counsel. We’ve also served clients in Washington, Greensburg, Mount Lebanon, and Upper Saint Clair for more than 20 years.
Divorce in Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know
In order to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, at least one of the parties must have been a resident of Pennsylvania for a minimum of six months. Once you’ve met this requirement, you can file for divorce on one of three grounds:
No fault and mutual consent divorce
Divorce based on a one year separation
Fault-based divorces must be brought on certain grounds like adultery, bigamy, or extreme cruelty. Obtaining a divorce by mutual consent or a divorce based on a one-year separation is often faster and less costly than pursuing a fault divorce. You can proceed with a mutual consent divorce if both parties agree that their marriage cannot be saved. In that instance, each spouse writes a statement that says the marriage cannot be saved or is “irretrievably broken.” However, the dissolution process can be prolonged if one spouse claims the marriage is not broken. It’s important to have strong legal experience on your side throughout this process.
How Do You Determine What’s Community and Non-Community Property?
As you begin working through your divorce, you may be wondering how your property will be divided. In Pennsylvania, property in a divorce is categorized in two ways: marital property and non-marital property. Knowing the difference between these two can save you time and will give our legal team insight into how to move forward with your case.
Also called separate property or non-community property, this is property that was acquired before the marriage, or property acquired during the marriage as a gift or inheritance of an individual spouse. Generally, this property will not be divided during your divorce because it is solely owned by one spouse. The following are some examples of non-marital property:
Property that one of you owned before marriage
Gifts received by one spouse, regardless of whether it was acquired before or during the marriage
Assets that both of you have agreed to be owned by only one of you
Because each of these examples of property is only legally owned by one spouse, it will generally not be divided during a divorce. On the other hand, marital property will need to be equitably and fairly divided.
Otherwise known as community property, marital property includes property acquired or earned during the marriage. In Pennsylvania, the court assumes that any property you acquire during marriage is marital property; if you want to keep an asset out of property division, then you will have to show the court why it should be characterized as non-marital property. Remember that “property” doesn’t only mean the physical location in which you live. In addition to your house or land, community property can also be businesses, vehicles, furniture, savings or retirement accounts, or any debts you may have collectively incurred.
Under Pennsylvania law, the court considers several factors in deciding how to split marital property with fairness. These factors include the length of your marriage, the amount of marital property, and how each of you contributed to the acquisition and improvement of the property. Courts also consider each spouse’s age, health, income sources, and other factors. To ensure your property is divided fairly and your rights protected during the process, hire our firm — Smith Law — as soon as you know you need help.
DIVORCE ATTORNEY SERVING PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA
The choice of a divorce attorney is a crucial one. If you want to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, you’ll need a skilled attorney to defend your rights. The right lawyer will be able to answer your questions, walk you through your options, and give you guidance tailored to your unique situation. Reach out to our firm in Pittsburgh for a free consultation today.