Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

The below FAQs refer to common questions of people going through divorce, but is not a complete guide to the legal issues related to divorce. Readers should not rely on this note as legal advice, but should consult with a competent attorney licensed in their state.

For more information, please contact our Media family law and divorce lawyers at Berman & Asbel, LLP, today. Call us now at 484-842-0276.

Q: If I want a divorce in Pennsylvania, do I have to prove that my spouse did something bad or illegal?

A: No. Pennsylvania has no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce can be granted if both parties consent or if the parties have been separated for at least two years.

Q: My spouse and I still live in the same house and my spouse refuses to leave the house and will never consent to a divorce. I cannot afford to move out. Can I ever get a no-fault divorce?

A: It is legally possible for two married people living in the same house to be considered separated. It depends upon a number of facts and circumstances as to whether they are living as a married couple or living as two individuals who happen to reside in the same dwelling.

Q: Almost everything we own is in my spouse's name. If we get divorced, do I lose everything?

A: No. Pennsylvania divorce law provides for equitable distribution of marital assets. Marital assets, generally, are assets acquired from the start of the marriage up until the date of separation. Such items are marital property and the court can distribute marital property to either party, regardless of whose name was on it.

Q: My spouse had an affair and that is why I want a divorce. Shouldn't I be able to receive all of the assets since it was my spouse's fault we are getting divorced?

A: Pennsylvania divorce law specifically says that marital misconduct (such as adultery) cannot be used as a factor by the court in deciding how to distribute marital property.

Q: I cannot stand living with my spouse anymore and I have to get out. If I leave, do I lose my rights to the house?

A: No. Leaving the home does not cause you to lose your rights to your share of your equitable share of marital property in a divorce.

Q: I inherited money from my parents when they died. Is that money marital property that my spouse can claim in a divorce in Pennsylvania?

A: If you kept the inherited money in a separate account only in your name, the original money or principal from the inheritance is separate property and your spouse would not be entitled to a share of that in a divorce. If the account grows in value from the time you first received it until separation, then the amount of the growth would be marital property subject to equitable distribution. On the other hand, if you put that money into both names or put it in an account that was already marital property, then all of that money becomes marital property and can be distributed in the divorce.

Q: I have a 401(k) from work. If I get divorced, can my spouse take part of that money?

A: A retirement account like a 401(k) may be marital or separate property or partly both. The amount of money in that account before the marriage is separate property. The portion of the account added during the marriage until separation is marital property subject to possible distribution.

Q: My spouse makes more money than me. If we get divorced, am I entitled to alimony?

A: Whether or not you can get alimony depends on many specific circumstances. It is not automatic just because one party has a higher income. You may, however, pending a final divorce, be able to claim spousal support. In questions of alimony or spousal support, if the party seeking to receive such payments engaged in marital misconduct, such as adultery, abuse or other acts, that may disqualify that person from receiving alimony or spousal support, depending on the circumstances.

Q: My spouse left me and our children. Can I get money to help take care of them?

A: Yes, you can file a petition for child support. Child support is determined by taking into account the after-tax income of both parties and applying the formula and tables of the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines.