• FileName: divorce-brochure.pdf [read-online]
    • Abstract: DIVORCE IN PHILADELPHIA COUNTYDo you want to file for divorce? Where to file for divorce.Divorce is a legal procedure that ends a marriage You may file for divorce in Philadelphia County if

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Do you want to file for divorce? Where to file for divorce.
Divorce is a legal procedure that ends a marriage You may file for divorce in Philadelphia County if
and changes the legal relationship between former you or your spouse lived in Pennsylvania for the 6
spouses. Living apart from your husband or wife months immediately preceding the filing of the
does not legally end a marriage. divorce complaint, and either party currently resides
in Philadelphia or you agree to divorce in
Types of divorce available in Philadelphia. There is no required length of
Pennsylvania. residency in the county where the divorce complaint
is filed. In Philadelphia, a divorce complaint is
There are 2 kinds of divorce: no-fault divorce and filed with the Clerk of Family Court at 1133
fault-based divorce. Most people in Pennsylvania Chestnut Street.
obtain a no-fault divorce because it is easier and
cheaper and you may not have to appear before a What is the cost?
judge or go to court other than to file the papers
necessary for the divorce. There are 2 kinds of no- The filing fee is $316.98. You may pay with a
fault divorce: money order. Personal checks and cash are not
1. If both parties agree to the divorce, they can
obtain a no-fault divorce. After one party files If you cannot pay the filing fee, you may ask to be
for the divorce and 90 days has passed after the excused from paying the fee by filing a petition to
complaint is served on the other spouse, each proceed In Forma Pauperis (IFP). Ask for and fill
party may file an Affidavit of Consent to out an IFP Petition. If you are on welfare or SSI,
divorce. You may also work out any property bring your welfare photo ID or proof receipt of SSI.
issues you have by agreeing on how you will
deal with marital property in a Property What happens to property owned by the
Settlement Agreement. The court rules require parties in a divorce?
you to file a series of legal documents to
“Marital property” refers to almost everything that
complete the divorce. This is the fastest way to
either spouse acquires during the marriage,
divorce in Pennsylvania, but it requires the
regardless of whose name the asset is titled in.
cooperation of both parties.
Such assets would include a house (again,
2. Unilateral (also known as “irretrievable regardless of whose name is on the deed or
breakdown”) no-fault divorce is available if mortgage), pensions, stocks and bonds, furniture,
one of the spouses will not consent to the automobiles, bank accounts, debts, etc. “Marital
divorce but the parties have been living separate property” also includes increases in value during
and apart (defined by the statute as “complete the marriage of: (1) any property owned by a
cessation of any and all cohabitation, whether spouse before the marriage and/or (2) any asset or
living in the same residence or not”) for at least property a spouse inherits or receives by gift during
2 years and the marriage is irretrievably broken. the marriage. The law provides guidance regarding
You may file for the divorce before you have the “equitable distribution” of marital property.
lived separate and apart for the 2 year waiting Equitable distribution literally means “fair.” It does
period but you cannot get the divorce until the 2 not necessarily mean 50-50 distribution of marital
year period is over. There may be disagreement property.
between you and your spouse about when you
started living separate and apart. It is important This brochure is meant to give you
to try to get some legal advice on this issue. general information and not legal advice.
Sponsored by the Family Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association February 2011
“Fairness” is determined by examining several Relative earnings and earning capacities of the
factors: parties;
Length of marriage; Ages and physical, mental and emotional
Any prior marriage of either party; conditions of parties;
Age, health, station, amount and sources of Sources of income of both parties, including:
income, vocational skills, employability, estate, Expectancies and inheritances of both parties,
liabilities and needs of each of the parties; and
The contribution by one party to the education, Duration of the marriage.
training or increased earning power of the other
party; Contribution by one party to the education, training,
The opportunity to acquire assets and income in or increased earning power of the other party;
the future; Extent to which earning power, expenses, or
The sources of income for both parties; financial obligations of a party will be
The contribution of each party in the affected by reason of serving as custodian of
acquisition, preservation, depreciation or minor child;
appreciation of marital property, including the Standard of living of the parties established
contribution of a party as homemaker; during the marriage;
The value of any property set apart to each Relative education of the parties and time
party; necessary to acquire sufficient education or
The standard of living of the parties established training to enable the party seeking alimony
during the marriage; to find appropriate employment;
The economic circumstances of each party; and Relative assets and liabilities of parties;
Whether the party will be serving as the Property brought to the marriage by either
custodian of any dependent minor children. party;
Contribution of a spouse as a homemaker;
Note that “fault” behavior (e.g., adultery) is not Relative needs of the parties;
considered in determining fairness in property Marital misconduct of either party during
distribution. the marriage, but not after the date of final
separation (except abuse of one party by the
Can alimony or support for the spouse be other);
awarded in a divorce? Federal, state and local ramifications of
Two kinds of financial support for the spouse can
Whether the party seeking alimony lacks
be awarded in a divorce:
sufficient property to provide for the party’s
Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) is a form of reasonable needs;
support that is only awarded for the period after a Capability for self-support through
divorce complaint has been filed and ends when the appropriate employment.
divorce is granted. Its purpose is to allow the
spouse with less financial resources than the other Do you need a lawyer?
to pursue and/or defend against the divorce action Filing for a divorce can be a complicated process,
and maintain his or her standard of living during especially if custody of children, support, and/or
this period. property division is involved. If possible, it is best
Alimony is a form of financial support paid by to have legal representation.
one spouse to the other after the finalization of the Legal representation may be available from:
divorce. The law allows the court to order alimony
for as long as it is needed based on the following PHILADELPHIA LEGAL ASSISTANCE
factors to be considered: 215-981-3800
This brochure is meant to give you general REFERRAL AND INFORMATION SERVICE
information and not legal advice. 215-238-6333
Sponsored by the Family Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association February 2011

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