Bucks County Divorce Lawyers
Going through a divorce is difficult for everyone in the family. It is especially difficult for divorcing parents who do not know where to start. They may have questions about how their children will get through this process. At the same time, divorcing spouses need help figuring out how they are going to make changes to the way they live. The Bucks County divorce lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. are here to help clients with all the legal mechanisms that are involved.
Why Do Divorcing Clients Need a Lawyer?
Divorcing clients need a lawyer because they need to work with someone who is experienced in handling these cases. They may not know which steps to take next. Divorcing parents might move into different homes, or one spouse might even move out of state. At the same time, the children may be on a visitation plan that has not been recorded with the court. For the protection of both parties, we need to get involved so that the divorce can be filed properly. Our Bucks County divorce lawyers will consult with one or both parties to manage the case. In cases where a parent has a claim of misconduct, they will need a lawyer to argue their case as vigorously as possible.
Every client should be aware that their ex-spouse will retain a lawyer to plead their case. We will look through all the goals that our clients have and talk about what they need to do in order to feel satisfied once the divorce is complete. We cannot guarantee that every client will get exactly what they want, but we will explain how each part of the case works. We will even offer mediation if we need both parties to determine how the case will proceed.
We can draw up asset division documents, child custody and parenting plans, determine an arrangement for alimony, and even work up an agreement to pay for child expenses. We will ensure that all documents for our clients are filed appropriately with the court.
What Types of Divorce are Available?
There are two basic types of divorce in Pennsylvania; clients can file for a fault or no-fault/mutual divorce. In a mutual divorce, both parties agree to the divorce and fill out the necessary paperwork. One spouse might appear at the hearing, while the other may not respond because they already agreed to the terms. The spouse that did not file for divorce does not need to go to the hearing and they can sign off on the divorce when all the paperwork has passed through the court system. We can make these divorces happen as quickly as possible and spouses often part amicably.
However, in a fault divorce, there are several grounds that must be considered, including:
- Adultery: This will be considered by the judge when they are managing the child custody agreement, asset division, the parenting plan, or alimony. We will help settle the case so that our client receives what they deserve.
- Physical or sexual abuse: We can file for a restraining order if one spouse fears for the safety of their child and/or themselves.
- Abandonment: In the case of abandonment, we must determine when the abandonment occurred, how long it lasted, and any support that is due. Sometimes, the ex-spouse fled to another state or town.
- Imprisonment: When imprisonment occurs, we can file for divorce so that the free spouse can move on with their life before their ex-spouse gets out of jail.
- Alcohol or drug abuse: When substance abuse is a problem in the relationship, we will use that information to show that the marriage is irreparably broken.
Can Divorcing Clients Avoid Serious Litigation?
Clients can avoid serious litigation by agreeing to divorce arrangements without the aid of an attorney or the court. This means that the ex-spouses worked with a mediator to agree to certain terms. When clients can agree, they can write down everything, bring those documents to our office, and have us file the paperwork accordingly.
The court often wants divorcing spouses to handle their problems before they come to court. If someone goes to court arguing about certain parts of the case, the judge might require mediation. Consider each of these options when planning for a divorce. If these items are not handled properly, the judge might decide for the divorcing spouses or send them back to mediation.
Asset division: Asset division includes everything from shared debt to homes and vehicles. When ex-spouses easily divide these items, they can leave the marriage with what they want or need without leaving that decision to the court. It should be noted that the court will not default to a 50/50 split if the couple cannot agree. Some divorcing partners believe they should hold out because the judge will give them a better deal, but there is no guarantee.
Divorcing spouses should discuss credit card debt, which loans each spouse will be removed from, and when a spouse’s name should be removed from a deed or title. We can draw up the paperwork so that a home or vehicle can be transferred to one spouse, and write up a schedule of debt management, including:
- Refinancing loans
- Selling big-ticket items and splitting the profits
- Liquidating retirement accounts and splitting the proceeds
Child support: Child support is calculated by the state using a special mechanism. We can help complete the calculations based on our understanding of Pennsylvania state law. Our Bucks County divorce lawyers can explain why the child support payment rises to a certain level or add child support payments when a child has special needs.
Child custody: The child custody plan should include a visitation schedule, along with a parenting plan. The visitation schedule is a canvas that can be used by both parents to ensure that the children see them as much as possible. Because the parents will live apart, we want to ensure that there is a pickup location and a set schedule.
The parenting plan will include where the children will go to school, rules for the children, and other items such as who will make education and medical decisions for the children. The parenting plan might include special payments for sports or activities and discuss how holidays will be managed, as well as who will carry insurance and how it will be paid.
Families often take vacation time over the holidays but may need to change their plans because the children now have to visit both sides of the family. These trips can be listed in the divorce decree, or parents can agree to alternate holidays so that the children see as many extended family members as possible.
Alimony: Alimony in the state of Pennsylvania is offered in various forms. Spousal support is offered during a trial separation. Spousal support is not alimony because the divorce has not been filed. This support will stop if the separation ends without a divorce filing. If the couple plans to divorce, the spousal support can be converted to alimony, and it may be increased or decreased depending on the circumstances of the divorce.
Alimony pendente lite is offered to the spouse with lower earnings while the divorce is pending. We will request alimony pendente lite for our clients if they earn less than their ex-spouse or do not have enough money to dissolve the marriage on their own. This type of alimony can be converted to traditional alimony, and the amount may change based on information that is uncovered during the divorce proceeding.
There is no permanent alimony in Pennsylvania. We will ask the court to set a time limit for all alimony payments and be adjusted depending on the death of one of the parties, a job change, or remarriage. If the couple can agree on all these things, we can file the divorce with the court without a range of hearings. If our client has made their best effort to come to an agreement to no avail, we can bring the case before a judge.
Can a Divorce Be Completed Without Both Parties?
A divorce can be completed with just one party in the case of abandonment. We, however, must prove that abandonment has taken place. If one spouse files for divorce with no response, the divorce can be completed as if the other party has agreed to the divorce filing. Contact one of our divorce lawyers to learn what can be done when one spouse is not cooperating during a divorce.
Is Divorce Mediation the Best Option?
Divorce mediation is a good way for clients to come to an agreement when they are not sure how to resolve issues in their divorce. When our Bucks County divorce lawyers offer support to our clients, we make sure that we are impartial during mediation. We are there to help both parties express their needs and document any agreements that have been finalized. We also prefer mediation to modify a divorce decree. The decree can be changed with the consent from both parties and we can help clients agree to new terms and submit that documentation to the court.
What Happens If the Divorce Goes to Trial?
When a divorce goes before a judge, the couple will be left to the mercy of the court. The judge must determine how assets should be split, how child custody will work, and how the parenting plan should look. Many couples believe that the judge will give them a simple plan that bends to their needs, but that is not the case. The judge will never have enough time or understanding of the case to give everyone what they want. This is why we ask our clients to agree to as much as they can before going to trial.
We also wish to remind our clients that assets will not be split 50/50 in the state of Pennsylvania. State law does not require an equal division of marital assets. Going to trial could make it necessary for a client to sell many big-ticket items so that the profits can be divided in a manner that the judge has chosen. The judge must also determine who will receive custody of the children and how visitation will be managed. This visitation plan may not be convenient for either party. We would prefer to work this out before going to court. If our clients suffered at the hands of their ex-spouse or they believe they should fight for the right to see their children, we will help our clients fight for their rights.
What are Special Considerations a Judge Will Make?
When we bring a case before a judge, the judge must look at different parts of the case before they come to a decision. Judges must take into account everything that has happened during the marriage. Important parts of a divorce proceeding include:
- The relative education of both parties, which impact their earning potential
- Contributions to the marriage, including one partner working while the other was in school or staying home to raise the children
- The ages of the children involved in the divorce
- Any misconduct during the marriage, including abandonment or abuse
- The length of the marriage
- The ages of both parties
- The relative health of both parties
- The earning potential of both parties
- The ability of both parties to maintain their quality of life after the marriage
- Any opportunities that might have been lost due to the divorce
When we bring the case to court, we are aware of all the things that the judge will need to consider. We will help frame the case so that the judge understands our client’s side of the story, and both sides should be aware that these issues will be raised in court. A longer marriage will result in a high alimony payment. A spouse that has contributed greatly to the marriage or a spouse that is in relatively poor health will receive more accommodations. We must know everything before we go to court to help our clients understand how the judge might rule. We understand that some of these considerations are not important to our clients, and that is why we ask them to come to an agreement with their ex-spouse when they can.
How Do We Handle Divorce Modifications?
Divorce modifications are completely normal, and divorced couples should not be afraid to modify their divorce agreements. We offer assistance with modifications in the following situations:
- When a job change necessitates a change in the child support plan
- When a job change requires a move
- When one or both parties moves, and the custody arrangement must be changed
- When a teenage child wishes to move into the other parent’s home
- When alimony payments cease or change
- When child support payments cease
- When a child with special circumstances needs more help than previously required
We understand that life can surprise anyone. Divorced clients have every right to move on and marry other people. They might take a new job or want to move closer to extended family members. No matter the circumstances surrounding the modification, we should be consulted so the modification can be recorded properly. As mentioned, we also offer mediation when modification becomes contentious.
Bucks County Divorce Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Offer Guidance to Those Filing for Divorce
Speak to the Bucks County divorce lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. when you have chosen to file for divorce or have been told that your partner wants a divorce. We will ensure that your rights are protected, and your divorce is filed properly. Call us today at 888-999-1962 or contact us online for a free consultation. With offices in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.