Experienced Divorce Attorneys Who Understand PA Divorce Law, Berks County Courts and the People of Reading and Berks County
Our Attorneys specialize in Family Law and are PA Divorce Law experts. Our top, proven Divorce Attorneys have 40 years’ experience successfully representing clients in Reading, PA and surrounding Berks County communities.
We understand divorce is one of the most challenging issues you and your family can face. That’s because:
- your future is uncertain;
- divorce disrupts your family, and you worry about how the children will be affected;
- divorce issues and proceedings are complicated and making wrong decisions can have long-term adverse effects; and
- finally, knowing where to seek competent legal help is difficult.
You’ve found the right place to get the help and reassurance you deserve. We’ll work with you to get you through your divorce financially and mentally as well as possible. That’s because we:
- know what we’re doing. You won’t find more competent, experienced lawyers in Reading, Berks County or anywhere else in Pennsylvania;
- fight to get you the best possible divorce settlement;
- offer more than the competent Divorce Attorney you’re looking for because we
- are a family and people-oriented law firm. We treat every client with the same dedication we would like for a member of our family;
- provide the legal guidance and emotional support you’ll need to get through the divorce;
- explain complex legal issues to you using plain English;
- take as much time as you need to understand what’s going on and what comes next;
- never do anything to run up our bill; and
- very importantly, have a broad range of legal expertise. That’s important because divorce can affect things like Estate Planning and Wills that ordinary divorce lawyers might overlook.
In contrast, we also understand that some people feel their divorce is so straightforward they don’t need a Divorce Lawyer. They think they can find out everything they need from a self-help book or on the Internet. Well maybe. Read all the information on this page. It’s evident that “maybe” isn’t good enough. Overlooking critical issues now can cost you thousands in the future. Divorce is too serious not to do correctly. You should at least schedule a consultation with us to find out why you do or do not need a lawyer to weigh the risks intelligently.
We’ll begin by giving you an idea of Pennsylvania Divorce law.
Overview of PA Divorce Law
Our summary includes
- PA Filing Requirements;
- Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania;
- Documents for Filing for Divorce;
- Counseling Requirements; and
- lastly, Alternatives to Divorce.
Divorce Filing Requirements in Pennsylvania
To file for divorce in Pennsylvania
- At least one of the parties to the divorce must have been a PA resident for six months before the filing.
- The divorce proceedings may be brought in the county where the defendant lives.
- If the defendant is no longer living in Pennsylvania, the proceedings may be brought in the county where the plaintiff (the person filing the divorce action ) lives.
- If the plaintiff continues to reside in the county where he or she lived while married to the defendant, the proceedings may be brought in that county.
- Before six months after the final separation, proceedings may be brought in the county where the plaintiff resides if the defendant agrees.
- If neither plaintiff nor defendant lives in the county where they resided at the time of the marriage, the proceedings may be brought in the county where either of them now lives.
- Lastly, Six months after the final separation, proceedings may be brought where either plaintiff or defendant lives.
Now we’ll examine the types of Grounds for Divorce.
Grounds for Filing for Divorce in Pennsylvania
No-Fault (Mutual Consent) Divorce Filing
Divorce laws in PA allow for a no-fault divorce 90 days after filing if both parties have filed affidavits stating they agree to the divorce. This is called mutual consent. Both plaintiff and defendant consent that the marriage is irretrievably broken. No-fault filings are the most common type of divorce filing.
Fault Divorce Filing
If there is no mutual consent that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may determine that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This can occur if the plaintiff and defendant have not lived together for two years. To prevail, the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s behavior led to the divorce. Grounds for a fault divorce include:
- abandonment for at least a year without cause;
- bigamy; and
- lastly, domestic violence.
After we meet the Filing Requirements and Know the Correct Grounds, we’ll need to file the correct documents.
Primary Documents for Filing for Divorce in Pennsylvania
The plaintiff must complete and file the appropriate documents to begin the divorce process.
- Documents include the
- Complaint; and
- Notice to Defend; Claim Rights and Verification Forms (attached to the complaint).
- File documents at the courthouse in the county where the plaintiff is filing for divorce.
- The defendant must be served with the filing documents within 30 days following the date documents are filed at the courthouse.
- Lastly, the time for serving documents is extended to 90 days if the defendant does not live in Pennsylvania.
Divorce Counseling Requirements in Pennsylvania
Under PA divorce laws, the court will order up to three counseling sessions whether or not either party to the divorce request them in a:
- no-fault divorce within 90 days of the filing; or
- fault divorce where the life of the injured spouse is intolerable.
If the court determines that the:
- marriage has been irretrievably broken; and
- parties have lived apart for at least two years; then
- the court will require counseling sessions if
- either party requests them; or
- may require the counseling sessions if they have a child who is younger than 16.
The court will provide plaintiff and defendant a list of qualified counselors. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is required to pick a counselor from that list. They may select a counselor of their choice.
Alternatives to Litigated Divorce Proceedings
Your goal should be to make divorces as amicable as possible. There are several alternatives for divorce proceedings with the intention of avoiding costly litigation and debilitating emotional stress. Our Divorce Attorneys are expert in all of the options to divorce shown below.
Mediation is a Win-Win Approach to Divorce Settlements
A mediated divorce is a popular option because it promises to reduce some of the hostility of many divorces. Here’s how a Mediated Divorce works
- You and your spouse meet with a Mediator to develop a plan to present to the court regarding matters such as
- division of assets;
- child custody;
- parenting time;
- retirement; and
- other issues.
- The Mediator
- is a neutral third party who may or may not be a family law attorney;
Note: Anyone can call themselves a Divorce Mediator because it’s an unregulated profession in the United States. Be sure to choose one that has formal training, experience, and good reviews.
- works to ensure the process is as amicable as possible; and
- is impartial and gives the same advice and information to both parties.
- is a neutral third party who may or may not be a family law attorney;
- You and your spouse can meet with the mediator as often as is necessary throughout the mediation process.
- It’s your settlement plan which you feel is fair to both you and your spouse.
- Finally, once you and your spouse have agreed, you both sign a divorce settlement agreement and submit it to the court.
Mediation works best when
- both spouses are open-minded, respectful of one another and able to express themselves well;
- marital property isn’t complex;
- there’s not a lot of animosity between the spouses.
Advantages of Mediation
- lower cost than a litigated divorce;
- less stressful than going to trial;
- results in a win/win result instead of a win/lose situation;
- spouses are more likely to comply voluntarily with the agreement;
- concludes faster than going to trial; and
- very importantly, is better when children are involved because they don’t see their parents arguing.
Advantages of Using Our Divorce Attorneys as Your Mediator
- The role of a Mediator is not to give legal advice. But an experienced Divorce Attorney can provide insight into possible negative ramifications of not coming to an agreement on a particular matter and going to court. Knowledge about consequences can give both spouses the extra incentive they may need to agree on a thorny issue.
- We know how to listen to both spouses, not dictate to you, and help you negotiate a mutually advantageous agreement that you design.
- Our attorneys are also competent Business Tax, Bankruptcy, Wills and Trust and Estate Planning Attorneys who understand finance and are good with numbers. We make sure your agreement covers all the bases.
- We’ll make sure your agreement is set up to endure predictable life changes, so you don’t wind up in court later on.
- Use Arbitration when Mediation fails.
- The arbitrator is an attorney trained in the skills of arbitration.
- The parties can stipulate before beginning the arbitration that it is either binding or non-binding.
- Each spouse is represented by an attorney who will guide them through the process as they meet with the arbitrator.
- An arbitrator is bound by specific rules of the Uniform Arbitration Act.
- The arbitrator will:
- hear testimony from witnesses;
- conduct discovery;
- hold conferences: and
- sometimes subpoena witnesses.
- The Arbitrator presents his final decision to the parties.
- The attorneys will then file a summary action, and the arbitration will be as enforceable as if it were a decision handed down by the court.
- Like the other alternatives to litigation, arbitration does require a certain amount of cooperation by the parties.
It’s important to note that numerous variables determine
- how complicated the settlement will be; and
- the likelihood of potential litigation.
The overall costs of the divorce will likely be less if there are few marital assets and if there are no children from the marriage.
Collaborative Law is one of the newest alternatives to a Divorce in Pennsylvania. Here’s an overview of how it works
- Consider Collaborative Divorce instead of Mediation or Arbitration if
- one or both spouses harbor animosity toward the other;
- there are questions regarding honesty;
- aggressive personalities are involved;
- or marital assets are complex.
- Spouses entering into a Collaborative Divorce follow the “Collaborative Divorce Model.” Each signs an agreement to put forth their best effort to resolve issues.
- Mediation is non-adversarial because a neutral third party represents both spouses. Collaborative Divorces are adversarial because each spouse hires a lawyer. Each lawyer offers legal advice trying to negotiate the best possible settlement for the spouse they represent.
- Other professionals may be brought in to help resolve complex situations including
- child specialists; and
- other consultants.
- All parties meet on a periodic basis until they reach an agreement.
- You may still need to appear in court to sign the final divorce agreement.
- The cost of a Collaborative Divorce usually falls between the cost of Mediation and a Litigated Divorce. There is an element of risk. That’s because if the Collaborative Divorce process fails and the divorce goes to litigation the entire process starts over again from scratch with new attorneys. So the total cost of the divorce may be much higher than if it had gone to litigation in the first place.
Consult with our experienced Divorce Attorneys. They can gain a full understanding of your unique circumstances and the personalities of the spouses to help you determine the chances a Collaborative Divorce will be successful.
There are many do-it-yourself divorce kits on the market. D0-it-yourself divorce kits may work if both parties are in agreement. But you often overlook crucial and costly details:
- Did you thoroughly research your state’s laws?
- Did you consider the tax consequences?
- Is that Internet-based divorce kit you’re looking at truly legitimate, or is it a scam?
- Can an online solution ask you critical questions an experienced Divorce Attorney asks in a one-on-one consultation?
- How is complex marital property like trademarks and patents that require experts resolved?
- Does the online solution consider other legal issues directly affected by a divorce?
The answer to all of these questions is No, or you have no way of knowing. You need or competent, experienced Divorce Attorneys to protect you now and in the future.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost?
The best way to get an idea of the cost of Mediation, Arbitration or a Collaborative Divorce is to call us at 610-670-9000.
Even the most seemingly simple of Litigated Divorces might become costly.
In 2012, the estimated cost of a divorce in Pennsylvania was between $30,000 and $50,000. This estimate includes:
- an initial consultation (which costs between $200 and $300);
- a retainer fee between $3,500 and $5,000;
- billable hours between $275 and $375 per hour;
- custody evaluations and trial between $10,000 and $20,000; and
- lastly, discovery proceedings up to $4,000.
Things You Can Do Before Contacting an Attorney
Before seeking an attorney, make a list of your questions or concerns regarding the following:
- Home: Keep or sell? Where will you live?
- Insurance: Life insurance, medical, and other for spouse or children.
- Taxes: Current or past tax returns, future exemptions.
- Support payments: Spousal and child support, how much for how long.
- Children: Living arrangements, decisions about education and healthcare.
You Need an Experienced Divorce Attorney
Divorce is Too Important to Let to a Rookie Divorce Lawyer
Divorce Affects Every Area of Your Life
- It impacts your finances and standard of living.
- It affects your property.
- Most importantly, divorce can be especially hard on children.
Issues Arise That Often Complicate a Divorce
One reason a Divorce Attorney is so crucial is because of the challenges that can arise with a divorce:
- Courts can challenge Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements in divorce proceedings.
- Fights arise in court over Alimony, Division of Property, Child Custody or Child Support.
- Lastly, in the case of infidelity, there may be animosity leading to accusations and demands for additional support.
Our Divorce Attorneys have the experience you need protect you in each of these matters.
A Skilled Divorce Attorney Can Help Guide You to the Most Amicable Divorce Possible
View divorce as a process toward a resolution rather than an argument. Treating divorce as a process makes an amicable divorce possible. The harsher you are, the more resistance you’ll get when trying to reach an agreement.
Obviously, you need our proven, experienced Divorce Attorneys.
You Won’t Find Better Divorce Attorneys in Reading, PA or Berks County
You now know why you need
- the best and most experienced representation possible; and
- Divorce Attorneys that are:
- familiar with the court system in Berks County;
- very importantly, more interested in helping you achieve your legal goals than seeing you as just another billable hour; and
- take pride in treating your problems with as much concern as they would treat their own.
We’re your best choice for a Divorce Lawyer in Berks County because we
- are Family Law Specialists;
- have 40 years’ experience practicing Pennsylvania Divorce Law in Berks County
- helping out clients end their marriages in the friendliest and most civil terms possible; and
- very importantly, protecting children both legally and financially after the divorce;
- know how Berks County courts and judges interpret PA Divorce Law and how it will impact your divorce;
- discuss divorce law with you using plain English, so you understand what to expect;
- suggest Mediation or best other less costly methods for ending your marriage for uncontested divorces; and
- represent and fight for your interests in a contested divorce working out issues such as:
- Division of Property
- Spousal Support and Alimony
- Grandparents’ Rights
- finally, negotiations with your partner’s attorney to eliminate some of the pressure on you and keep things as civil as possible.
- have expertise in other legal areas affected by Divorce including Wills, Estate Planning, and Bankruptcy.
Our 40 years’ experience includes knowing how to keep things as friendly as possible. We can help you maintain a reasonable perspective while protecting your interests by helping you
- get to a point where you acknowledge your pain and accept that the divorce is happening;
- begin to let go and look forward;
- think about whether you may be forcing your ex-spouse to fight against you by being unwilling to negotiate; and
- finally, to cooperate with your ex-spouse in non-legal matters such as parenting.
We’ll help you too. We’re the legal expertise and emotional support you need. Choose us to represent you. You won’t find more proven, experienced and family-oriented divorce lawyers near Reading, Berks County or anywhere else in Pennsylvania.
If your relationship is coming to a close and you’d like to speak with our Divorce Attorneys, Contact Us Online or Call Us at 610-670-9000 for a consultation.
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