Divorce Lawyer in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA, Divorce Attorney - Divorce Lawyer - Allegheny Co.
Our Pittsburgh divorce lawyers handle divorce cases for men and women throughout Allegheny County.
Whether you need to file for divorce in Pittsburgh, you have been served with a divorce complaint, or if you are a party to an existing divorce and require new representation, we can provide you with affordable, professional representation.
Marriages end for many reasons, and we're not here to make judgments. Rather, we provide our clients with information about their rights and obligations so that they can make informed decisions about the various issues related to their matter.
Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC
425 1st Ave - 6th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
You hire us to handle the legal and economic matters that will need to be resolved. Our job is to guide you through the system in a manner that is most favorable to you and in accordance with your wishes and goals.
PA Divorce Basics
Pennsylvania offers both "Fault" based and “No-Fault” divorces, although since 1980, a fault-based claim has not been required to obtain a divorce. A divorce can be contested or uncontested.
If the divorce is uncontested, in that both parties agree to the divorce and are able to resolve any related claims, the matter can be resolved in as little as three months. Following service of a Complaint in Divorce and after a statutory 90-day “cooling-off” period, each side is able to file various documents, and assuming there are no outstanding unresolved economic or other claims, a final divorce decree may be requested and entered after the appropriate documents have been filed by each party.
In Pennsylvania, if the defendant does not consent to a divorce, the action is considered a contested divorce. For cases filed prior to December 4, 2016, the parties will have to wait two-years from the date of separation before proceeding with the process to have a Divorce Decree entered.
For cases filed on or after December 4, 2016, the waiting period (for no-fault contested divorce cases) has been reduced to one-year.***
***UPDATE: HB 380 was signed by the House and Senate and sent to the Governor for his signature on September 27, 2016. The Governor signed the bill on October 4, 2016, and it will be effective (60 days after it was signed) December 3, 2016. This will apply to new cases only. THIS IS MAJOR NEWS for PA DIVORCE LAW and should be considered by anyone who is presently contemplating the filing of a new case.
Don't Look at It as Winning or Losing
Generally, a divorce is a legal ending to a marriage that was already over for some time for all intents and purposes. Other times, one party has contemplated divorce for a while, while the other party is completely shocked at its prospect.
Accordingly, we stress that there is no winner or loser in a divorce. Sometimes, both parties are upset at the ultimate resolution, because they still have feelings or resentment for the other party or regarding the circumstances, which led to the divorce. Compounding the marital discord is the reality of being required to pay the other spouse more than they feel they owe, or because they feel they have not received enough from the other spouse.
Emotional Impact of Divorce
Going through a divorce can be very trying emotionally and financially for both parties. In addition the families of each party may also be affected by a divorce, and no amount of planning can fully prepare one for its effects. However, recognizing the mental strain and stress, which divorce can involve and seeking assistance from family, friends, and professionals can help to alleviate some of this burden.
Economic Impact of Divorce
In most cases, the respective standard of living of each party will decrease as separate residences are required, and each party will have to assume bills, which were previously being paid for with two incomes. In other situations, one spouse may have not been working during the marriage, and may face the prospect of having to re-enter the workforce.
Accordingly, it is important to understand the amount of prospective spousal support, which may be owed or received. It is also necessary to consider issues such as new employment, medical insurance, opening new bank accounts, securing alternate living arrangements, and perhaps obtaining financial assistance from family or through loans.
By having a clear mind at the outset of a divorce action, the parties may save themselves considerable strife and money that often accompanies submitting the various issues to litigation through the family court system. It is important for you to explain your wishes to your lawyer at the first meeting so that they can work with you to create a plan of action on how best to proceed. You can never ask too many questions!
Some couples will discuss the divorce and their respective wishes, and only require attorneys to handle the legal documents. Often the parties are in partial agreement as to the split, but disagree strongly over how the assets will be divided and who will remain in the marital home. Other times, the parties are unable to agree upon any issues and require frequent intervention through the court.
Regardless of the circumstances, it is often much easier for both parties to speak to independent legal counsel to learn their rights and obligations. Once one or both parties’ unrealistic expectations are addressed, it is much easier to make substantive progress towards settlement or to proceed with litigation if settlement is not possible.
Litigation vs. Settlement
Sometimes, parties can resolve their issues without court intervention. However, there are also times where various issues require various forms of litigation. These matters can include claims for spousal support or deciding how the marital assets and debts should be divided (equitable distribution of marital property).
Length of Proceedings
Depending on the ability of the parties to cooperate, and the extent of issues involved, the pendency of a divorce action can vary greatly in length. If the defendant consents to a divorce, the matter can be resolved as early as 90 days following service of the divorce complaint. However, if the defendant does not consent to the divorce, under Pennsylvania Law, the parties will need to wait two years from the date of separation before they may address the resolution of pending economic claims or move for the entry of a final divorce decree.
If you have already tried counseling or simply believe that your marriage is beyond repair, we can help you to get a divorce, and explain the related issues. We welcome the opportunity to assist you.
Planning for Life Needs (Who stays in the home? How will the children be affected?)
Both parties to a divorce have numerous issues to plan for including any or all of the following:
- Making New Living Arrangements
- Obtaining and Furnishing Separate Residences
- Employment Issues Including: Going Back to Work or Expanding the Hours Worked
- Obtaining New Health Care or Maintaining Current Health Coverage
- Consideration of Their Respective Support Needs or Obligations
- Future Custody Arrangements
- School Related Issues for the Children
- Child Support
- Daycare and Co-Parenting Cooperatively
For divorcing parents, custody of the children and minimizing the emotional impact on the children is of the utmost concern. There are numerous programs to assist families going through a divorce, and the parties may participate in individual counseling, family counseling, or co-parenting counseling.
How can you take control and remove some stress from this process?
If the parties both receive informed legal counsel regarding their rights and responsibilities, they may find that they are better served by agreeing upon various involved issues such as: the distribution of assets; a custody agreement or spousal support if applicable, without the need to litigate matters.
However, frequently the court needs to be involved to make difficult decisions that will greatly affect the parties to a divorce and their children. We view litigation as a last resort that should be undertaken only when there is no prospect of amicably resolving the issues, or when meaningful settlement has failed.
Divorce Cases We Handle
We have handled cases from the simplest uncontested divorce, involving a short marriage with no children, to 30 year marriages for high-net-worth individuals with substantial marital estates. No two cases are ever alike, so each case requires careful planning and special attention. We represent both men and women, high-net-worth cases, and people of average means.
The majority of the divorces we handle involve homeowners with medium-length marriages where there are minor children involved. These cases require addressing spousal support, child support, custody, and distribution of marital debts, including credit cards and loans and marital assets, such as real estate, property, retirement plans, savings, pensions, personal property, and jewelry. We have represented men and women from all walks of life with diverse education and socio-economic circumstances.
We handle cases where one party is employed and the other is a stay-at-home parent. We handle cases where both parties are employed. We have handled cases where the parties own their own businesses and others where they are employed in any number of professional careers or trades.
We always seek to resolve matters in the most reasonable way possible. Accordingly, we strive to conduct meaningful settlement discussions and negotiation with the opposing party if possible. At the same time, if your matter requires that we take a tough stance on a certain issue, or if we are forced to litigate some of your claims, we will fight hard for your best interests, while keeping the big picture in mind. We do not endeavor to be difficult if things may be resolved. We want to obtain the most favorable results to you, and often that means compromising in order to resolve things more quickly, thereby keeping your costs down and reducing the amount of stress you will have to endure.
Our clients have included: Business Professionals, Financial Consultants, Civil Engineers, Teachers, Pharmacists, Physicians, Nurses, Lawyers, Paralegals, Architects, Entrepreneurs, Home Builders, Landscapers, Carpenters, Contractors, Mechanical Engineers, Masons, Skilled Laborers, Machinists, Insurance Agents, Sales Representatives, Real Estate Developers, Real Estate Agents, Commercial Truck Drivers, Transit Workers, State Employees, Federal Employees, Active Duty U.S. Military, U.S. Armed Forces Reservists, Computer Programmers, Service Technicians, IT Professionals, Technology Workers, Software Engineers, Inventors, Craftsmen, Investors, Office Assistants, Artists, Performance Artists, Chiropractors, Medical Professionals, Technology Developers, Finance Workers, Postal Employees, Retail Sales Associates, Restaurant Managers, Service Industry Workers, and numerous Business Owners.
Call 412.397.7175 to speak to a Lawyer today or Schedule an Attorney Consultation
Contact us if you have questions about getting a divorce and child custody. We proudly serve clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Allegheny County throughout Western Pennsylvania.