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.
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People constantly grow and change. Sometimes, people in a marriage change so much they are no longer a good fit for each other, and one or both in the couple want out of the marriage. For such circumstances, Pennsylvania offers the no-fault divorce.
A no-fault divorce, often called an "uncontested" or "simple divorce," is usually the easiest and least expensive way to end a marriage, and often the best option even when there is fault involved. In many cases, the proceeding will not even require a hearing.
If you're seeking to terminate your marriage, or your spouse is seeking an uncontested dissolution of your marriage, our experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices can help you resolve this difficult and often complicated matter. As a team of attorneys, we'll represent your best interests and advise you on the best course of action. Call us today at (877) 529-2422 to set up a free consultation to go over the details of your unique situation.
We are based in West Chester, PA, with convenient meeting locations in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Plymouth Meeting, West Chester, Kennett Square, Malvern, Radnor, Springfield, and King of Prussia. We are proud to serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area, including in Chester County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County and Delaware County.
Pennsylvania introduced no-fault marriage termination in 1980. Before this, people who sought a divorce had to prove "grounds" for the divorce, meaning they had to prove that at least one of the spouses were wronged in some specific way, like adultery or domestic violence, to the court. It was not sufficient to simply show that both spouses no longer wanted to be in the marriage — there had to be provable bad behavior.
Under no-fault, however, if both parties in the marriage want a divorce, they can file and then both file an affidavit saying they give mutual consent for the marriage termination. After 90 days from the date of filing, the court may then grant the decree. No hearing is required.
If both parties agree, ending the union in this fashion is often called an "uncontested divorce." It is also sometimes called a "simple divorce," since there are no issues of fault to hash out.
If only one spouse seeks to terminate the marriage, he or she can file for a no-fault process after the couple has lived apart for two years. He or she files saying the couple has been separated for the requisite time and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the other spouse does not object, the marriage termination is granted without a hearing. If the spouse does object, the judge will hear evidence and determine whether the couple has been living apart and whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. If both are determined to be true, the court grants the decree.
The court may also grant a no-fault divorce if one of the spouses has been institutionalized in a mental care facility for at least 18 months, and if there is no reason to believe the spouse will be released from care in the next 18 months.
You may feel like a no-fault divorce is letting a bad spouse off the hook for inexcusable deeds. The spouse may have cheated on you. He or she may have squandered your life savings. He or she could have hurt you in countless other ways. A no-fault filing may seem wrong because there is, definitely fault to be had.
During a divorce in Pennsylvania, though, it may be time to put those feelings aside and focus on what is best for your long-term interests, particularly if children are involved. In an at-fault filing, you will have to make allegations and prove them to the court's satisfaction. It's a process that is more difficult and more expensive. You may also be required to defend against allegations from the other spouse. In the end, fault cannot be considered at all by the court when it is determining division of assets, and is only one of many factors the court may consider when determining alimony and support.
An uncontested process, particularly when there is mutual consent, is almost always easier, less expensive and quicker than an at-fault termination. There are sometimes legal and practical reasons to seek an at-fault divorce. For instance, if your spouse refuses to consent and there is an immediate need for a divorce, such as that your spouse is abusive, then an at-fault divorce may be more than warranted. However, in most cases, we advise clients to seek a no-fault divorce. The quicker you can achieve resolution, the quicker you can move on with your life, and the less debt to burden you.
You may have heard about divorce forms available on the Internet. You may be wondering about the purpose of taking the time and effort to hire a lawyer, must less the expense, if you and your spouse are planning an amicable dissolution of the marriage.
Some marriage terminations may not be as simple as they seem. There could be property and debt issues that you may not be aware of. For instance, your spouse may have credit card debt you were unaware of that he or she accumulated during the marriage, and the spouse fails to tell you, out of dishonesty, neglect or ignorance. After the termination is finalized, if your ex-spouse fails to pay his or her bills, the credit card companies might come after you.
An experienced lawyer can go over every detail and make sure that the break is clean and contingencies are taken care of. An attorney who has handled many divorces knows what problems to look out for and what to check on before you sign any agreements or papers.
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, we make things as easy as possible for our clients. We can come to your home, meaning no office visits. For a simple, no-fault process with mutual consent, there's also no need for court appearances. We also give an initial, free consultation where our lawyer can discuss the main issues with your divorce and give you an idea of how much the divorce will cost you.
Our experienced legal team can help you overcome your situation with your best interests intact. Ciccarelli Law Offices represent spouses throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Coatesville, Phoenixville, Berwyn, Willow Street, Lancaster, Ephrata, Newtown Square, Glen Mills, Media, Swarthmore, Radnor, and the surrounding communities. Call us today at (877) 529-2422 to set up a free consultation to discuss your options today.