Divorce Law in Lancaster, PA

Divorce Law refers to the legal termination of a marriage and often involves working through several complicated issues. Are you facing a costly divorce in Lancaster, Pennsylvania? Does your estranged spouse have an attorney? Usually, couples going through a divorce are unable to compromise on most items and reach an agreement on their own. Thus, many couples go through mediation or the court system to resolve their case.

Issues Involved in Lancaster, Pennsylvania Divorce Law

There are many complicated issues that you need to settle during the divorce process. Many of these elicit strong emotions from one party or the other, resulting in volatility.

Dividing Property 

One of the most challenging issues in the divorce law process is dividing property, debts and assets. In many states, like Pennsylvania, anything you and your spouse purchased over your marriage is subject to division. This includes things such as real estate, bank accounts, cars, stocks, etc. Some states split marital property evenly, while others go along an equitable split. In the latter, the judge weighs the contribution each spouse made to the marriage and uses that information to decide the disposition property, which may not equate to a perfect 50/50 division of your property, debt,  and other assets..

Child Support 

Both parents are responsible for paying for the care of their children. There is a child support guideline that helps determine how much each parent should contribute based on their income and the amount of time they spend with the children. Child support pays for things such as healthcare, food, clothing and other basic needs.

The Pennsylvania Support Guidelines determine child support in Lancaster using the Income Shares Model. The model is based on the principle that the child should receive the same amount of parental support as if the parents were together. Child support in Lancaster can be paid online through the Pennsylvania Child Support Program.

The Pennsylvania Bureau of Child Support Enforcement can address payment delinquency through workers compensation intercept, driver’s license suspension, and tax refund intercept. Other methods include work requirements, passport denial, income withholding, and property liens. As a last resort, the delinquent parent can be found to be in contempt of court, which can result in fines and jail time.

Alimony 

Alimony, or spousal support, can vary dramatically depending on the marriage, and Lancaster, PA divorce law court looks at multiple factors when determining the amount and length of alimony, including:

  • A spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity and level of education
  • The division of property
  • Parental responsibility of the children
  • Sole investments and assets of either spouse

Under Pennsylvania law, the court can grant alimony to one spouse once the Lancaster divorce is finalized. The judge can determine how much alimony will be paid and for how long, which may be for a set or indefinite period of time. If the spouse receiving the alimony remarries, the alimony payments will end.

Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody is perhaps the most emotional issue during a divorce that involves children. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the court bases all decisions on what is in the best interest of the child. Keeping this in mind may help navigate the rough waters of custody.

Pennsylvania Statutes dictate that the court will not give preference based on gender in Lancaster custody decisions. Other factors considered include the child’s wishes, and which parent is more likely to encourage frequent contact between the child and the other parent. Additionally, the need for stability in the child’s education, family, and community life will be considered. Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse will be weighed heavily by the court.

Generally, Lancaster, Pennsylvania courts award joint legal custody giving both parents the legal right to make decisions for the children, such as education, medical care and religious practices. Legal custody has nothing to do with physical custody or visitation. Joint custody does not mean both parents split time with the child evenly, just as Sole legal custody does not bar the non-custodial parent from visiting the child.

The Process of Going Through Divorce Law in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Are you leaning towards getting a divorce from your partner? If so, it is important to understand the necessary steps of the divorce law process.

Step 1: File the Divorce Law Petition

The divorce law process begins when one spouse files a legal petition to terminate the marriage. The petition must include:

  • A legal reason for divorce (grounds for divorce)
  • A statement that shows at least one spouse meets the state’s residency requirements for divorce
  • Other statutory information your state requires

Most states offer the option for filing a no-fault divorce, which does not require a legal reason for the divorce.

You can obtain a no-fault divorce in Lancaster if both spouses sign affidavits saying that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Step 2: Request Temporary Orders

The divorce law process in Lancaster can take several months, but temporary orders can be requested and approved for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Property restraining orders
  • Status quo orders

Request temporary orders as quickly as possible so you are not absent the resources or protection that you need.

Step 3: Serve Your Spouse and Wait for Their Response

If you are the one who files a petition for divorce, you must have your spouse served with their divorce law papers and then file a proof of service with the courts. If your spouse accepts service, then they need to fill out an affidavit to that effect. However, in many cases, the petitioner must hire a process server or sheriff to formally serve the petition on the other spouse. It is this third-party who then records the proof of service.

Step 4: Try To Come to an Agreement

The best outcome for anyone going through this process is to have an uncontested divorce, meaning both spouses agree on all issues. Both partners can reach this with the help of a mediator. Not only will this save each spouse money, but there will typically be a lot less animosity.

Step 5: Go To Court

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, then the case continues before a Lancaster, PA judge. While there is some benefit to having a judge hand down orders, it may also be a detriment as there is little to no control of the agreement by the parties. 

In Pennsylvania, the Court of Common Pleas handles family cases, including divorce. If you live in Lancaster, you will typically file for divorce with the Domestic Relations Department of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas.

Step 6: Receive the Judgement of Divorce

The divorce law trial will end with the official judgment of divorce, ending the marriage. This final dissolution of marriage sets out the details about property and debt division, child custody and all relevant issues between the couple.

Work With an Experienced Lancaster, Pennsylvania Divorce Law Attorney

If you are going through a divorce and are unable to reach an agreement with your partner, you should hire an experienced Lancaster divorce law attorney. A lawyer will fight for you and make sure you get what is yours. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Pennsylvania state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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