Montgomery County, PA Divorce Lawyers
Divorce Law in Pennsylvania
No one enters into a marriage or a civil union expecting the partnership not to last. But with the stress of modern times and the demands of career and family weighing so heavily on a couple, a once blissful relationship may begin to crack and crumble under the mounting tensions. When faults begin to show in a marriage or civil union, most couples will make a concerted effort to mend the cracks through counseling and other means. Sometimes this works, often it does not. Unfortunately, the time may arrive when a relationship has become too damaged to repair, or a couple has grown so far apart that neither partner is interested in preserving it.
If you and your spouse are considering filing for divorce, you're going to need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to guide you through this complicated and often contentious process. For over 25 years, Attorney Sheryl R. Rentz has been representing Montgomery County clients as they end one chapter of their lives and enter a new one. Ms. Rentz is licensed to practice law in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For a free consultation, call the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. at (610) 645-0100 or (866) 290-9292.
I’ve Decided to End My Marriage, What Is My First Step?
The first thing you'll want to do is gather all the appropriate documents:
- Proper ID, such as driver's license or passport.
- Your marriage certificate.
- Any documents related to estate planning, such as wills, trusts, etc. for both you and your spouse.
- Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements, if you have them.
- Any court orders that apply to you and your spouse, such as restraining orders, etc.
- You and your spouse's tax returns for the time you've been married.
- You and your spouse's pay stubs for the time you were married.
- Proof of any other income for you and your spouse, such as Social Security, public assistance, child support, royalties, etc.
- You and your spouse's bank account statements (joint, held, and individual).
- Documents pertaining to stocks, bonds, and other investments for both you and your spouse.
- Retirement and pension accounts for you and your spouse.
- Any deeds and leases to property either of you has.
- Titles for any vehicles you and your spouse own.
- All loans you and your spouse are accountable for (such as mortgages, personal loans, student loans, automobile loans, home improvement loans, etc.)
- A list of both of your monthly expenses and bills.
- All insurance policies pertaining to you and your spouse, including medical, dental, life, homeowners, automobile, etc.
I've Gathered All the Documents, Now What?
Your next step is the most important one you'll take during the divorce process: finding a qualified and tenacious Montgomery County, PA divorce lawyer who is experienced with the divorce statutes in your state. While a marriage may be an emotional and spiritual arrangement, it is ultimately a legal and business arrangement. No matter how amicable your breakup has been up to this point, not having an objective legal mind at your side during the divorce process can change everything. This is particularly the case when issues involving children are involved, because discussion can become emotional very quickly.
At Fault Divorce vs. No Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania
Next, you will need to decide how you want to end your marriage. Did you and your spouse simply grow apart, stop communicating, evolve differently, or just lose your passion for each other? In such a case where both parties agree that ending the marriage is in their best interests, no-fault or uncontested divorce may be the best way to go. If, on the other hand, one or both spouses blame the other for the ending of the marriage, at-fault or contested divorce may be the way to go. At-fault divorces are usually the result of an act or situation that a marriage can't recover from, such as adultery, abuse, desertion, or an alcohol, drug, or gambling addiction.
“...She made the divorce process as simple as possible for both parties involved while making sure that I was protected. She was readily available at all times and extremely knowledgeable...”
Why Do I Need a Montgomery County Divorce Attorney?
Because divorce is a very serious matter that should be handled by a professional we suggest that you have legal representation even if your divorce is seemingly neutral. Having the legal peace of mind has meant a significant amount of security to our clients over the years. We have seen several cases involving divorces without proper legal representation that have left the party without rights, paying fees over the course of their life and losing custody or even visitation rights to their children.
The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz can see you through the entire Pennsylvania divorce process and make sure you end up with the best settlement possible. Call us today for a free consultation at (866) 290-9292.
Click here for information on Divorce Lawyer Retainer Fees.
Additional Pennsylvania Divorce FAQs
- My spouse and I have both agreed upon a divorce. What’s the next step?
- My spouse wants a divorce. What should I do?
- How long must I have been a resident of Pennsylvania before I can file a divorce in a PA county court?
- What are grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania?
- What is the difference between a separation and a divorce?
- I want a clean, amicable divorce, but I also want to ensure that my rights and my children are protected at the same time. How do I go about this?
- What is the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce?
Q: My spouse and I have both agreed upon a divorce. What’s the next step?
A: If you and your spouse wish to conduct the divorce amicably, mediation may be your best option. It allows you and your spouse to negotiate the divorce on your own terms with a divorce mediator taking the place of the judge. All divorce mediation cases fall under the Pennsylvania no-fault divorce statute, meaning that neither spouse has to be proven at-fault for the divorce. After an affidavit of consent has been signed by both spouses, they may move forward with finalizing the divorce after a 90-day cooling off period. If a spouse changes their mind, the divorce can still move forward if the couple has lived apart for at least one year and if it is shown that the marriage cannot be reconciled.
Q: My spouse wants a divorce. What should I do?
A: You may understandably be jarred from the experience of being served divorce papers. Consider consulting with a divorce coach for advice and emotional support. Then, speak with a trusted Montgomery County divorce attorney in your county right away or contact your county courthouse for assistance. The process for consenting to a divorce may differ depending on whether your divorce is considered no-fault or at-fault. You will want to know what your rights are should you choose not to respond. Discuss your options and possible outcomes with your attorney and decide whether mediation or litigation is right for you.
Q: How long must I have been a resident of Pennsylvania before I can file a divorce in a PA county court?
A: At least one of the spouses must have lived in Pennsylvania for at least six months immediately prior the commencement of the action for divorce. The documents pertaining to the divorce must be filed in the Pennsylvania county where at least one of the spouses lives. When one spouse lives out of state, the divorce can be filed in the Pennsylvania county where the other spouse resides. You may have other options for filing available to you, and you can consult with your attorney to learn more.
Q: What are grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania?
A: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognizes the following conditions as grounds for divorce:
- Willful and malicious desertion for a period of one or more years
- Cruel and barbarous treatment which endangered the life or health of the innocent spouse
- The act of one spouse being married to two people at the same time
- Imprisonment for two or more years
- Indignities to the innocent spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome
- Institutionalization in a mental institution for at least 18 months
- Irretrievable breakdown
Q: What is the difference between a separation and a divorce?
A: Both separation and divorce involve the establishment of legal terms of agreement through which all affairs are settled. Matters that may be resolved in a separation agreement include property division, debts, child custody, alimony, and child support. Court approval is not needed for a separation in Pennsylvania so separating couples can discuss the separation of their estate privately whenever they decide to. Consult a lawyer to know your rights and to draft a separation agreement.
Q: I want a clean, amicable divorce, but I also want to ensure that my rights and my children are protected at the same time. How do I go about this?
A: Mediation is always an option for spouses who want to divorce amicably. However, it may or may not be available to you depending on the feelings of your spouse. Either way, you should consult with an attorney to discuss your case and determine the best way to protect yourself and your children. Be as open as you can with your attorney and ask any questions that come to mind. The more you and your attorney know about your case, the better chances you’ll have for an optimal outcome.
Q: What is the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce?
A: A divorce mediator, a neutral party whose only concern is to protect the interests of all parties involved in the divorce, presides over the former process. Whereas in collaborative divorce, each spouse gets their own lawyer but agrees not to litigate any issues that may arise. Since the court is not involved, they may schedule their own meeting sessions to discuss the terms of settlement with their lawyers present. Once an agreement has been reached, it is filed with the court.
If you have questions about your divorce, please call (610) 645-0100 today to speak with Montgomery County divorce attorney Sheryl R. Rentz.
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