Divorce is not one-size-fits-all solution to ending a marriage. Pennsylvania laws afford you the opportunity to explore the option best suited to your needs and familial situation. This may include exploring the use of mediation during the separation or divorce process. Or, it may involve establishing a private, civil agreement outlining the terms of separation.
Whatever option you choose, it’s important to protect your financial and parental rights for the duration of the process. We offer confident representation for clients facing an irreconcilable marriage. Our firm’s focus is on finding realistic resolutions that will position you for a successful post-divorce life. In respect to the uncertainties that surround divorce, we’ve offered information below to help you understand your options.
The Role of Separation in a Divorce in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania laws do not provide for a status of “legal separation.” A person is either considered single, married or divorced. A couple may, however, seek separation as an end to a relationship. Or, a couple may undergo a period of separation as part of the divorce process.
A married couple that chooses separation will face many of the same issues as a couple going through divorce, including:
- division of marital property and debts;
- child custody;
- spousal support (or alimony); and
- child support.
These factors may be addressed in a private, civil agreement known as a separation agreement. Your family law attorney can help you to draft such a document and ensure your rights are well protected in the process. Both parties must agree to what is outlined in the document. Once signed and notarized, the separation agreement becomes a legally binding contract.
Any changes to a separation agreement must be made before a civil court judge. This may mean such things as changes in spousal maintenance payments or child custody arrangements. A separation agreement may serve as the framework for a divorce, should you choose to move forward with that step. This underscores the importance of negotiating a fair separation agreement.
The Role of Mediation in Separation and Divorce
You may choose to include mediation during the course of your separation or divorce. This out-of-court process involves a neutral third party who facilitates negotiation on matters such as division of assets and child custody. The mediator’s role is to consider both sides’ needs and offer guidance for a fair, peaceful resolution. Mediation offers several advantages when incorporated into your separation or divorce proceedings.
Among the positives associated with mediation, it:
- is private;
- is a non-litigious process;
- can help both parities save time and money; and
- empowers parties to make their own decisions.
Though mediation is a useful alternative to litigation, there is no guarantee that it will result in a fair outcome. Your divorce attorney should represent you throughout mediation to protect your best interests.
Find the Divorce Option Best Suited to Your Needs