Whether you expect to settle your divorce peacefully or you expect to go to court, you need an experienced lawyer by your side. When heading into divorce, couples don't realize the many aspects that need to be handled and the legal requirements and restrictions that are involved. Here at the Law Offices of Blitshtein and Weiss, P.C., we will walk with you and guide you through the process.
Beginning the divorce process
The first step in the divorce proceedings is to file for the divorce in court. A great deal of documentation must be completed, which we will help you compile and complete.
We will also help you establish “fault” for your divorce. Pennsylvania recognizes no-fault divorce, but there are some fault-based reasons for divorce that are recognized in PA. These include desertion, adultery, bigamy, abuse, and imprisonment for more than two years. “Indignities,” such as public shaming, mistreatment, or severe debt, are also potential reasons for divorce.
Fault-based divorce does not affect the division of property, but it may be considered by a judge in expediting the divorce, and it might entitle you to spousal support that you may not otherwise have been eligible for. Here at Blitshtein and Weiss, P.C., we look closely at each client's situation and advise based on the client's best interests.
Child custody and support
Often the most painful part of a divorce is trying to do what's best for the children. In our experience, most parents love their children and want to be with them, so custody division can be a difficult process. Factors to be considered in determining custody include the child's attachment to each parent, other family relationships, the mental and physical health of each parent, parenting duties each parent has performed, which parent can better care for the child, and the location of each parent's residence.
When a divorce is being litigated, the court will use these factors to make a judgment. In a divorce that is not going to court, we review these factors with our client and work together to propose a parenting plan that both parents can live with and that allows the parents to remain active in their children's lives.
After custody, child support is the next biggest hurdle. In determining child support for a litigated divorce, the court looks at the income of both parents, the total number of children who require support, the particular needs of the children, and the custody arrangements. Again, these factors can help a couple that is not going to court determine a fair support arrangement. This can be a hotly contested issue, however. So whether you are likely to be the payer or receiver, we will work to find the best settlement for you that also benefits the children.
Alimony is usually only awarded in PA for a fixed period of time in order to give the receiving spouse an opportunity to receive training or otherwise become self-sufficient. Long-term alimony may be awarded in some cases, for instance, if the marriage was very long and the spouse's age and lack of marketable skills preclude them from becoming self-sustaining, or if a spouse has a long-term or permanent illness or disability.
Division of assets and debts
When couples divorce, they often think about the division of assets. But debts also need to be resolved and divided. There is a wide variety of assets and debts that need to be considered.
Assets to be divided may include:
- Family home and other residences
- Furniture, jewelry, and other valuables
- Electronic online storage and entertainment accounts
- Retirement accounts, 401k, pension, insurance plans
- Benefits from rewards programs, frequent flyers, etc.
- Any assets acquired in the marriage and used for family purposes
Debts may include:
- Mortgages and lines of credit
- Credit card debt
- Education debt
- Car loans and other loans
This complicated process of division includes determining which assets and debts are marital property vs. non-marital, the present value of the assets, who benefits the most from each of the assets and debts, and how best to divide them.
Negotiation and litigation
Most people in a divorce don't really understand how to negotiate effectively to get a settlement that really works for them. Emotions and baggage make the give-and-take difficult. We walk through negotiation tactics with our clients and help them determine their non-negotiable items and what they would be willing to offer in return. As your law firm, we will be your advocate and your voice to make sure you come away from the settlement satisfied. If litigation is necessary, we will argue your case before the court.
Drafting an agreement is a complex process that will include a detailed listing of all the fine points that were negotiated with regard to the division of assets and debts, living arrangements of each member of the family, child custody details, child support and alimony, and agreed-upon methods of future amendments. You will need an expert to draft this for you, review it with you, and submit it to the court.
Getting the help you need
At the Law Offices of Blitshtein & Weiss, we are on your side. As experts in family law, we will provide you with compassionate support and experienced legal representation to bring your divorce to a successful conclusion that benefits you and any children involved. Call us today at (215) 364-4900 to discuss your case.