Pittsburgh, PA Divorce Attorney
Our Pittsburgh divorce lawyers handle divorce cases for men and women throughout Allegheny County.
Whether you need to file for divorce in Pittsburgh, have been served with a divorce complaint, or are a party to an existing divorce and require new representation, we can provide you with affordable, professional representation.
We know this may be the most difficult time in your life and we are here to help you get through it. If you are like most people, you have never called a lawyer before.
Cases We Handle
We have handled simple uncontested divorces, involving short marriages with no children, to 40+ year marriages for high-net-worth individuals with substantial marital estates and everything in between. No two matters 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 modest means.
Many 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 division of marital property including marital assets and debts. We have represented families 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 handle all traditional divorce litigation, but we are also trained in collaborative law so we can handle your collaborative divorce. Moreover, we offer divorce mediation services as well. Regardless of which route you choose, with our firm you have choices regarding how to resolve your case on your terms.
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.
In PA, a mutual consent divorce is one that is not contested. If the divorce is uncontested, both parties agree to the divorce. This does not necessarily mean they will agree on how assets will be divided but it allows the action to move forward sooner than if the Defendant is not agree.
If both parties are in agreement that they want a divorce and are able to resolve any related claims (by settlement agreement) the matter MAY be resolved in as little as three months.
In Pennsylvania, if the defendant does not consent to a divorce, the action is considered a contested divorce. For cases filed on or after December 4, 2016, the waiting period (for no-fault contested divorce cases) has been reduced to one-year.*
Now that the waiting period has been reduced, we are still seeing plenty of cases where one spouse does not consent to the divorce, but these cases will still be resolved or at least get substantial footing in court before the old waiting period would have ended.
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.
*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 became effective (60 days after it was signed) December 3, 2016. THIS WAS MAJOR NEWS for PA DIVORCE LAW.
How fast can we resolve things?
The simplified procedure under a 3301(c) divorce involves: Filing and service of a Complaint in Divorce followed by a statutory 90-day “cooling-off” period. Next, each side is able to file Affidavits of Consent and Waivers of Notice of Intention and assuming there are no outstanding unresolved economic or other claims, a final divorce decree may be requested and entered after the appropriate documents (Praecipe to Transmit the Record and Draft Divorce Decree) have been filed.
We both want a divorce, but we don't agree about assets, money, support?
Here, the parties both agree to a divorce but may require more information about the assets/debts of the marriage, which can be obtained through formal discovery requests and answers that is often followed by formal Equitable Distribution thorough the court, which includes preparation and filing of Martial Asset and Liability Summaries, then a more detailed Inventory and Appraisement followed by Judicial Conciliation(s), trial or masters hearing on any number of issues. This is of course an overly simplified overview of how many divorces are resolved.
To file or not?
There may be specific reasons why one party should or should not initiate divorce proceedings in PA. Each case is unique but there is Allegheny County specific case-law that should not be ignored when considering whether you should file for divorce. We can explain the strategy behind pursuing a certain course of action, and can fully advise you of your rights or obligations on all divorce related issues. There may also be situations where one party would typically want the other person to file, but they end up needing to file themselves in order to achieve a certain result.
It can be complicated so call us at 412.397.7175 for a Free Phone Consultation to find out more!
Alternatives to Litigation: Collaborative Law or Mediation?
A growing trend in family law is utilizing alternative dispute resolution instead of going to court. We are trained in both Collaborative Law and Mediation so we can resolve your case on your terms, without any court appearances, with lower stress and lower costs.
Every family is unique and every case is unique. With us, you have options regarding how much control you will have in the final outcome and how much you want to argue or simply move on with your life.
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.
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.
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.
Planning in Advance
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 one year* 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.
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.
Not your typical Firm
We are definitely not your "typical" divorce Firm - refreshingly honest and straightforward. 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. We also tell it like it is, with no-nonsense. This is time is probably already tough for you, so we do not add to the fire; we put out the flames.
No judgments, no attitudes
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.
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.
How we can assist you?
If you are feeling helpless and don't know where to turn we can help. If you have never had to call a lawyer before we understand. If you are feeling overwhelmed, let us ease your burden. If you are confused or have questions let us help you.
If you need help leaving a marriage, filing for divorce, responding to a complaint in divorce, filing an answer and new matter or petition raising claims we can help.
Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation
Contact us if you have any questions about divorce, or to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Allegheny County throughout Western Pennsylvania.