If you’re considering divorce or you have decided to end your marriage and want to know what the process will entail, there are several things to think about. This time in your life can be emotionally draining for several reasons, so you should know which options are best for you and the well-being of your family going forward. As a Pennsylvania resident, here are some things to keep in mind about divorce or separation.
Legal separation vs. divorce
Legal separation is when a couple agrees to remain legally married but lives in separate homes according to a court order. The courts absolve the couple from living together, which works for people who have religious or moral objections to divorce. There are financial orders for separated couples, but they are not to the same extent as a divorce. This option may be ideal for couples who want to ensure financial support for their children or reconsider the finality of divorce before making the ultimate decision to end the marriage.
Petition for divorce
The beginning of the divorce process involves a document known as the Original Petition for Divorce, which is filed with the local court clerk in the county the couple resides in. Some states refer to this document as the Letter of Complaint. The document is an official request for the court to grant the divorce.
The petition identifies the parties involved in the divorce as well as any children the couple share. The spouse filing for divorce must state the reason for ending the marriage. In most states, the reason will fall under “incompatibility” or “irreconcilable differences.” The petitioner is the spouse requesting the divorce, and the other spouse is referred to as the respondent or defendant.
The document is served to the respondent, who has 21 days to respond to the divorce petition and request temporary orders for alimony or child support. From there, the couple can begin negotiations to hopefully arrive at an agreeable settlement in a timely manner.