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The office of Attorney Debra L. Yost, Attorney at Law will be happy to answer any questions you may have or you could take a moment to see if your question is answered below.
There is no legal separation in Pennsylvania. The separation begins as soon as the parties are no longer residing in the same home. No documents are required to prove there has been a separation.
The most common type of divorce action is based on the irretrievable break down of a marriage, also known as the basic no-fault divorce. This type of divorce can be finalized in approximately 3 months if the parties can agree on the various aspects to finalize the divorce including custody (if there are children), equitable distribution (if there are joint assets that need to be divided), and any other matters of concern.
In Pennsylvania, the party who has less income may be entitled to or awarded spousal support, alimony pendente lite (APL), or alimony.
Spousal support can be awarded to the party who has less income after the parties are no longer living together and before a divorce action is filed. However, the party must prove entitlement, i.e. they are not responsible for any wrong doing that ended the marriage. Support is terminated when the divorce is finalized.
Alimony pendente lite is Latin for alimony pending litigation or APL for short. It is calculated the same way as spousal support but there is no question of entitlement and it is sought after a divorce action is filed. It is awarded to the party with less income to ensure that they have adequate income to litigate the divorce action. Support is terminated when the divorce is finalized.
Alimony can be awarded to the party who has less income after the divorce is finalized. However, there are many factors that are considered such as the length of the marriage, age, health, and earning capacity of the party seeking alimony. Alimony is a part of the divorce settlement and is paid in weekly/monthly installments after the divorce is final.
All counties have different steps that will ultimately result in a custody order. The process in all counties begins with one party filing a complaint for custody. If the parties agree to the terms of custody, the order can be established within a maximum time frame of 2 months. However, if the custody of the minor child or children is being contested, it is not uncommon for the matter to take a year before it is resolved before the court.
The time frame for a contested custody dispute is lengthy because after the complaint is filed, there are various factors that must be addressed. Some examples include conciliation conferences, mediation, whether to obtain psychological evaluations and home studies, and ultimately, when the custody hearing can be scheduled before the court.
Child custody involves legal custody and physical custody.
Most often, the parties have joint or shared legal custody of the minor children. Legal custody is the right to be involved in important decisions and the right to information regarding the minor children.
Physical custody is where the children reside. The most common forms of physical custody include shared custody, primary custody, and partial custody. Shared custody is where the minor child spends approximately 50% of the time with each parent. More common is where the minor child resides most of the time with one parent who has primary custody and less time with the other parent who has partial custody.