It is possible to complete a Pennsylvania divorce without the help of a family law attorney. For some couples, this may be the most financially sound option, as long as they can work together amicably. However, this is not always the case. Even when a Pennsylvania divorce starts off on good terms, it can quickly become contentious.
Most of the time, spouses have bad feelings and need to “settle accounts”. In Pennsylvania, filing for divorce without an attorney (known as “pro se”) is a three-step process with strict deadlines and forms that must be completed accurately or they will be returned. The simplest procedure is an uncontested divorce, in which both spouses come to an agreement on all issues. This begins with filing a Demand for Divorce along with several supporting documents, including a marital settlement agreement that outlines the division of assets and any arrangements regarding children.
These documents are filed with the court and copies are provided to the other spouse. Then, you will attend a court hearing where the judge will make sure all your documents are in order, ask you some questions, and enter your Divorce Decree. Under Pennsylvania law, you have the right to represent yourself in all legal cases, including divorce. You don't need to hire an attorney to file an uncontested divorce petition in PA; however, there are many reasons why you should still consider doing so.
First of all, there are still things that can go wrong and work to your disadvantage, even in an undisputed divorce. This is why it's important for a properly trained lawyer to review all your documents and agreements before filing them; to make sure there are no blind spots you're missing. In addition, uncontested divorces are often the least expensive divorce option. So, for a modest investment, you can get peace of mind knowing that everything is filed properly and in your favor.
When it comes to alimony in divorce mediation, the parties themselves discuss and decide what is the appropriate amount of alimony to pay that is fair and realistic after considering their respective post-divorce budgets. Spouses who need to hire an attorney to represent them will generally begin the filing process first as the first step toward divorce before resolving issues related to finances and children. After both spouses reach an agreement on issues related to the divorce, a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer can help with the drafting of a marriage agreement. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania has a legal glossary that you may find useful if you decide to divorce and information on how to represent yourself in a divorce.
Filing for divorce is never pleasant but if you have the right assistance or knowledge, you will be prepared to start your divorce. Divorce will also be granted when the defendant has been in a psychiatric institution for a serious mental problem for at least 18 months before the divorce is initiated and will likely remain in the institution for at least 18 months after the divorce has been initiated. As with alimony, the court must be asked to divide marital assets as part of the divorce lawsuit before the court finally grants the divorce. You must also file a Divorce Demand Form which is actually your request for your divorce to be recorded in court.
When you file for divorce, unless your divorce is simple, you will need to attach a legally binding marriage agreement to file the divorce in the county court. That's why it's important not to delay and consult a local divorce lawyer in your county as soon as possible to help you with your legal options. If you're not sure which path to take, first assess whether divorce mediation is right for your situation before turning to opposing lawyers. After filing an application for divorce, you have the option of completing your divorce either by hiring opposing lawyers or through divorce mediation, provided that your spouse also agrees.