FIND ANSWERS TO SOME COMMON QUESTIONS BELOW:

Q
Am I Going to Win?
A

It has often been said that no one wins in a divorce case.  We will attempt to raise all issues structured to your case to your advantage, and make sure you “lose” as little as possible.  However, if your intent is to punish your spouse or to win by way of an all-out, no-holds-barred victory, your goal is probably unattainable.

Q
How Long Will My Contested Divorce or Custody Case Take?
A

It is difficult at the outset of a lawsuit to foresee how long it will take to complete.  We are better able to give you an estimated time range later when we understand more clearly what is at issue. The time involved is primarily based on four factors:

-The number and complexity of the contested issues;

-The intensity of feelings between the parties and whether there is an inclination to settle;

-The attitude and tenacity of your spouse; and

-The tenacity and desire for litigation of the lawyer of your spouse.

By  far,  the  factor  that  makes  lawsuits  last  longer  is  the  intensity  of  the  feelings between the parties and how much they want to fight.

Q
How Does the Divorce Process Work in Pennsylvania?
A

It used be that a divorce could not be granted unless there were fault grounds.  Those days have passed and we now have no-fault divorces.  Parties can still choose to divorce on fault grounds for reasons of adultery, abandonment; however, it can be very expensive due to the litigious nature of the divorce.

A no-fault divorce is where instead of proving that your spouse is to blame for the divorce, you can consent to the divorce under 3301(c) in Pennsylvania or divorce by Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage under 3301(d) in Pennsylvania.  Under 3301(c), the parties can consent to the divorce by filing an affidavit of consent with the court 90 days after your spouse has been served with the divorce complaint.  If both parties consent to the divorce, you can craft and file an agreement with the court and request entry of your divorce.

Under 3301(d), the parties must prove a separation from their spouse for a period of time to request grounds to divorce.  If the period of separation from your spouse began on or after Dec. 5, 2016 you will need to be living separate and apart from your spouse for a period of ONE YEAR.  If the period of separation from your spouse began before Dec. 5, 2016, you are required to be living separate and apart from your spouse for a period of TWO YEARS.

Q
How Much Will My Contested Divorce or Custody Case Cost Me?
A It is difficult to make a realistic estimate of the total fee even when we know what issues are contested, the intensity of the parties’ feelings, and the complexity of the issues.  If the parties want to settle, make compromises, and end the matter quickly, they can do so.  If the parties do not trust each other, want complete discovery of all assets and liabilities, and argue many issues to the bitter end, no matter what the issue is, the process becomes very long, drawn out, and expensive.  Going to trial is almost always more expensive than settling the lawsuit.
Q
I Need A Really Tough Attorney.  Are You Tough Enough?
A Some people feel that to be a “fighter,” an attorney must (1) be uncooperative with opposing counsel in such matters as disclosing information, disclosing documents, and arranging for convenient dates for meetings, depositions, etc; and (2) never consider or advise compromise or negotiation with opposing counsel.

This notion is sadly misguided; the time to “fight” may be in TOUGH NEGOTIATIONS or in court.  Being uncooperative with opposing counsel greatly increases attorney’s fees with all legal steps done the hard way such as preparation of special documents, appearances in court, etc.  The information and documents are ultimately subject to disclosure under the law.  Therefore, an uncooperative attitude serves no useful purpose.  At times it may seem you are on the defensive.  At different stages of the case, the roles reverse.  Don’t worry, it evens out throughout the course of the case.

Q
What is Divorce and Custody Mediation?
AIt is a form of alternative dispute resolution, which is used to work out divorce, post divorce, or separation issues.  Typically, in this kind of process, a third party known as the mediator, assists the couple to negotiate a settlement.  Some of the issues that can be handled by the mediator are custody, time-sharing, alimony, child support, and the many other situations that may arise during divorce and separation.  The mediator assists the couple in resolving their differences in a constructive way to reach a satisfactory decision or settlement plan suitable for both of them. The main goal of it is to help people find areas of agreement.
Q
What is Collaborative Divorce?
ACollaborative Divorce allows spouses to be individually represented by their own divorce lawyers and work together to amicably resolve their issues with the goal of avoiding courtroom litigation.  You and your spouse will each hire your own lawyers and work with your lawyers and each other to collaboratively resolve issues that are in the best interests of everyone.  The lawyers and clients sign an Agreement, which outlines that if the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the lawyers will withdraw from the case and assist the clients in transitioning the case to trial attorneys.  By working in an open, cooperative environment, parties and their counsel can work toward a settlement that benefits everyone.

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Reference: Gold-Bikin, Lynne Z. & Kolodny, Stephen, The Divorce Trial Manuel, Chicago: ABA Book Publishing, 2004.  Print.

Questions and Answers from Top Family Law Lawyers at Family Law Corp. – Family Law, Divorce and Custody on Main Line, Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania counties by top family law attorneys.