Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce in Pennsylvania

The below divorce FAQ are frequently asked questions by people going through divorce; however, they do not represent a complete guide to all the legal issues related to divorce and the facts that make your case unique. Readers should not rely on this note as legal advice, but should consult with a divorce lawyer at Berman & Associates, who can answer your specific divorce FAQ as they relate to the facts in your situation. Here are our top divorce FAQ:

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 one year. You still have the option of divorcing on fault grounds, but that option has limited benefits.

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 is 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 marital share of the house or any other 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 or any other asset 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, although the court can consider the source of the funds in fashioning its equitable distribution award.

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 I do. 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 or alimony pendente lite. Determining whether you should claim support or alimony pendente lite can be answered by your Berman & Associates lawyer, who brings deep knowledge and many, many years of experience to the practice of divorce law.

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

A: Yes, you can file a complaint for child support. Each parent has a duty to provide for his or her child. 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.

This is just the start of the divorce FAQ our firm can help you navigate. For more information relating to family law and divorce, please contact our Media, Pennsylvania law firm Berman & Associates today.