There is no such thing as filing for legal separation in Pennsylvania. The date of separation in your case will be determined by the date of filing of the Complaint in Divorce (the presumptive date of separation), the date when one spouse moves out, or for spouses who remain in the same home, the date when you clearly communicated that you wanted a divorce to the opposing party and began living separate and apart based on various factors. The date of separation is important because it helps define marital assets which are defined as those being acquired from the date of marriage to the date of separation regardless of how titled. When you are thinking of separating, it can be stressful with many questions about who should leave, how to handle finances, what will custody look like, etc. The attorneys at Potts, Shoemaker & Grossman can help you navigate this difficult time to develop a strategy to obtain the best possible outcomes under your unique circumstances.
The decision to end your marriage can be the hardest decision you will make; and is most certainly an emotional process. A part of the divorce process often includes division of assets, custody of children, child support, alimony pendente lite, alimony and related matters in the divorce process. There are various grounds for divorce, but the most common grounds are where there is consent of both parties to obtain a divorce or where the parties have been separated for a period of one year or longer regardless of consent.
Discovery is the process of exchanging documents between the parties so that they can identify and value marital assets. This can be done formally with requests prepared and sent pursuant to the Rules of Civil Procedure or informally by regular mutual request between counsel for both parties. Be prepared to be requested to provide copies of statements for all accounts and assets you own individually or jointly with another including but not limited to bank, investment, retirement, stock, business, credit card, financing or other debt and other account statements for at least the date of marriage, date of separation and current. Discovery will be more intensive where one of the parties owns an interest in a business or is self employed.
Special Relief in Divorce
There are various types of relief that you can request from the court after the filing of a Complaint in Divorce. For example, if you are residing in the same home you can request “exclusive possession” of the marital residence or you can request an order preventing “non-dissipation of assets” where you have reason to believe your spouse is reducing the value of marital asset. Pending divorce, you can also request an advance distribution of marital assets or payment of counsel fees in order to help you move out or pay for counsel fees to your attorney or for an expert required to value certain assets.
Potts, Shoemaker, and Grossman will work with you to determine the best legal pathway for you and your divorce in an effort to ensure that your rights are protected, you are advocated for as well as offer alternate dispute options such as mediation, when appropriate.