Divorce proceedings can be classified into two primary categories: uncontested and contested. A contested divorce, fundamentally, involves disagreements between the parties on one or multiple issues essential to dissolving their marriage. These disputes may pertain to asset division, child custody, alimony, or other substantial matters. Unlike uncontested divorces where both parties amicably agree on all significant terms, a contested divorce in Pennsylvania implies that the spouses require judicial intervention to resolve their differences. Read on and contact the dedicated Pennsylvania divorce attorneys at Berman Voss to learn more.

How Does the Contested Divorce Process Work?

Initiating a contested divorce typically begins with one spouse filing a divorce complaint in the county where at least one of the spouses resides. Following this, the defendant must be served with divorce papers, to which they have a specified period to respond. If they contest the grounds of the divorce or the terms proposed by the plaintiff, the court steps in to manage the ensuing legal process. This process involves multiple stages, including discovery, pre-trial motions, settlement efforts, and possibly a trial. Throughout these stages, each spouse, represented by their respective attorneys, presents evidence and arguments supporting their positions.

Discovery is a critical phase where both parties exchange information pertinent to the case. This may include financial records, property valuations, and witness testimonies, essential for building a strong case. Berman Voss prides itself on its diligent preparation during this phase, ensuring that all relevant facts are meticulously documented and presented.

How Do Fault and No-Fault Grounds Affect a Contested Divorce?

In Pennsylvania, the distinction between fault and no-fault divorce can significantly influence the trajectory of contested divorce proceedings. No-fault divorce, which can be pursued under the grounds of mutual consent or irretrievable breakdown after a separation of at least one year, allows couples to dissolve their marriage without assigning blame. This approach typically facilitates a smoother negotiation process regarding divorce terms.

On the other hand, fault divorce, as outlined in 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301(a), requires the plaintiff to prove that their spouse’s misconduct was the direct cause of the marital breakdown. Grounds for fault divorce include adultery, abandonment for at least one year, cruel treatment endangering the life or health of the spouse, bigamy, and imprisonment for two or more years. Pursuing a fault divorce can be strategically advantageous in some cases, especially when significant marital assets or custody issues are at stake, as proving fault may impact the court’s decisions on these matters.

That said, in other cases, it may be best to simply file a no-fault divorce. Once you cite a specific fault ground, your spouse can respond and deny it. You’ll then need to prove the fault ground your citing, which can lead to a longer, more costly, and more contentious divorce.

If you have further questions about the divorce process in Pennsylvania or need a competent divorce lawyer in your corner, contact Berman Voss today.