West Chester, PA 19380
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Lee Ciccarelli is the founder and managing partner of Ciccarelli Law Offices with over two decades experience as a practicing attorney.
These locations are available by appointment only
Sometimes something goes wrong. Sometimes it just wasn't meant to be. When a marriage goes awry, there comes the time to decide to end it. Both partners in the couple may be able to reach the decision together. Other times, only one person wants to end it. The decision to divorce is usually a difficult one. The process that follows is equally difficult and complicated without proper guidance.
If you've decided to end your marriage, or if you are responding to actions initiated by your spouse, you'll want someone experienced to guide you through this difficult situation. Our experienced legal team at Ciccarelli Law Offices will be on your side, advising you on the best course of action, fighting and negotiating for your interests and seeking the best result for you.
Your marriage dissolution affects every area of your life. Don't leave this important matter to a single lawyer or solo practitioner. We're a team of lawyers who pool our extensive experience for our clients. We're proud of our ability to help our clients find resolution in what is often one of the most stressful circumstances they go through.
Call us today at (877) 529-2422 to set up a free consultation to discuss your divorce. We are based in West Chester, PA, with secondary locations throughout Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, and Radnor.
When a family court hears a divorce case, the litigants involved may argue for the court to determine fault. Since Pennsylvania law allows for no-fault divorce, litigants may avoid the issue entirely, if they so choose. For most cases, the actual results would be the same between both types. Some people may know these processes as "uncontested divorce" and "contested" divorce.
In the past, successfully terminating a marriage required that the spouse filing had to prove that the other spouse had acted in a way that constituted some form of mistreatment. In 1980, though, Pennsylvania joined most other states in enacting "no-fault" divorce, where there is no need for the litigants to prove any specific bad acts or mistreatment.
For no-fault, one spouse may file saying the marriage is "irretrievably broken," and the couple have lived apart for at least two years. For the no-fault to be granted, either the other spouse does not deny that the marriage is broken and that they have lived apart for two years, or, if the spouse does object, the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken so that the couple has lived apart for two years. The court can also grant a no-fault if both sign an affidavit giving mutual consent for a divorce, with no requirement for living apart.
A Pennsylvania divorce can also be for fault. If one of the parties in the marriage commits adultery, domestic violence or bigamy, deserts the spouse for a year, is sentenced to prison for at least two years, or otherwise commits acts that render the innocent spouse's life intolerable and burdensome, the other spouse may file an at-fault divorce.
There may be legal reasons to seek an at-fault, such as when a spouse wants to terminate the marriage immediately due to infidelity and the other spouse refuses because he or she believes they can reconcile. However, there are often few other practical reasons. Fault in the marriage dissolution does not affect the distribution of assets, and usually does not affect support, like alimony. Sometimes, people want to file using the at-fault process for the emotional satisfaction of a court declaring their spouse was "at fault." However, they often do not realize how harrowing the process can be.
Our experienced legal team carefully explores at your options and can advise you on the path forward that is best for you and your long-term needs. A divorce lawyer in West Chester from Ciccarelli Law Offices can represent you regardless of your situation. We can also speak to you about options such as collaborative divorce, in which the parties work together for the best resolution.
When two people build a life together, they frequently have built assets together, as well. In divorce, how those assets will be divided is typically one of their top concerns. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, we will thoroughly examine your unique situation, be honest with you about our assessment, and will act to get you the best possible resolution in a timely manner.
Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. That means that, when dividing marriage assets, the court examines several factors. Those factors include, but are not limited to:
Being a homemaker is considered a contribution to the marital estate's value. The court will look at all these factors can make a determination of how a division would be "equitable." Note that it is not an "equal" distribution of assets. It's also noteworthy that fault for the divorce is not a factor the court will consider. Your lawyer can negotiate with your spouse's lawyer or argue to the court why you should receive the best possible result.
Marital misconduct may be considered when the court determines whether either spouse should pay alimony, among other factors like earning capacity, employability, child custody and physical, mental or emotional condition. Alimony is a monthly payment one spouse makes to the other so that the spouse in the economically weaker position will be able to support himself or herself. There are options like alimony pendente lite, a temporary form of maintenance available during litigation. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our family law attorneys help identify all your options.
For many people facing the prospect of dissolving a marriage, one of the aspects they must deal with is where to file for divorce. You may have been married in a different state. Your spouse may live in a different state or county. Choosing where to file will affect which attorney you hire.
To divorce in Pennsylvania, one of the spouses must have lived in Pennsylvania for at least six months prior to the date of the filing. Either you or your spouse must meet that description before you can file.
You must also file in the appropriate county. If you spouse lives in Pennsylvania, you must file in the county in which he or she lives, unless you have obtained his or her consent or if you are living in the same county where you and your spouse lived while married, and have lived there continuously.
If he or she does not live in the Commonwealth, you can file in the county in which you live.
There is no requirement for anyone to have a lawyer in any court proceeding. Representing yourself is called "pro se" representation. You may have found divorce forms on the internet, and consider going it by yourself to save money on lawyer fees. Having a trained, experienced lawyer on your side could make a big difference. Additionally, your spouse may have said he or she won't get a lawyer — but then may show up to court with an aggressive attorney. It's in your best interest to have a knowledgeable advocate fighting for you.
Chester County PA Masters Unit - This branch of the ChesCo court system is responsible for hearing cases on support, divorce cases involving asset division, juvenile delinquency, and dependency cases. A "Master" is appointed to hear cases and a Judge from the Court of Common Pleas is involved in more complex support matters.Chester County Justice Center, 5th Floor
Pennsylvania Child Support Website – Maintained by the Pennsylvania State Government, this website enables mothers and fathers to pay child support conveniently online. On the website, you can also find critical information and forms related to child support in multiple languages.
The Divorce Center – This non-profit organization was established in 1983 with the goal of easing the trauma that a divorce can have on parents, children, and loved ones. The website connects users with information for parents and professionals in the family law area.
Center for Divorce Education – For nearly 25 years, the Center for Divorce Education, has committed countless hours towards providing education for court systems and service workers who work directly with divorcing spouses. This is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
Kids Turn – This non-profit organization has helped families across the nation deal with the long-term emotional affects of parental separation.
Ciccarelli Law Offices can help you overcome this difficult time and safeguard your best interests. We represent spouses throughout Pennsylvania, including Phoenixville, Coatesville, Paoli, Willow Street, Lititz, Ephrata, Norristown, Villanova, Media, Newtown Square, and nearby areas. Call us today at (877) 529-2422 for a free consultation to discuss your situation with one of our dedicated attorneys.