Deciding to divorce is the first step. Once you begin the divorce process in Pennsylvania, you will have many more decisions to make, and some can be incredibly complex.
One of the most complicated aspects of any divorce involves property and financial matters. You will be required to gather documentation, provide information and develop a plan with your spouse on how to untangle your intertwined financial lives.
You may associate divorce with spouses and their attorneys fighting over these issues in a courtroom, which may increase your anxiety and stress. However, you are not required to take your divorce into a courtroom.
Keep in mind that regardless of if you and your spouse end up in a courtroom or are able to negotiate and settle matters outside of the courtroom, Pennsylvania requires one of the spouses to file a Divorce Complaint to ensure that a Divorce Decree, a certified document that formally and legally divorces married couples, is issued.
Alternative options, such as divorce mediation, have become increasingly popular in recent years. Divorce mediation has many benefits, but only you know if it is the right choice for your situation. A Divorce mediator is not always a lawyer so be mindful about the type of Divorce mediator selected. Typically, Divorce mediation benefits spouses with minimal marital assets and debts so if spouses have a large marital estate, lawyers will most likely need to be involved in the matter.
Mediation is typically faster and cheaper than traditional courtroom litigation. It is also confidential, which can be important if you and your spouse would prefer to keep your personal situation out of the public eye.
Compared to traditional litigation, mediation allows you and your spouse greater freedom to make your own decisions about the terms of your divorce.
A mediator helps guide you to potential solutions, but ultimately, you are in control. You do not have to worry about a judge deciding something that you cannot do anything about.
Mediation might not be a good choice if you know that you and your spouse will not be able to agree on all divorce terms or if there is a lack of trust between the two of you.
You must have all relevant financial and property information to negotiate your divorce terms. If you worry your spouse may lie about this information or conceal property, using the discovery process, which a lawyer can assist you with as part of divorce litigation, can prevent you from getting a bad deal.
Mediation is often not a good choice in marriages that involved abuse or psychological manipulation, as the abuser can find a way to take control, even in a neutral setting like mediation.
Before choosing which direction to go in, it is best to talk over your situation with an experienced divorce attorney.