How Do I Choose the Right Family Attorney?
Finding the right family attorney can seem challenging, especially when you are under pressure or feeling attacked. The best thing you can do is consider your situation as honestly and realistically as possible, and give yourself time to explore your options. Even the most highly rated attorneys are not perfect for everyone, so you need to know what makes you comfortable and be clear about your goals.

The best family attorney is one that listens to your perspective and helps you determine the best way to proceed in your case. The courtroom is not always optimal when it comes to settling legal disputes, especially those involving family members. Your attorney should be open to exploring alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and collaborative divorce, but also be willing to fight to protect your rights if compromise is not an option.

How Do I File for a Divorce?
First, determine if your relationship is amicable enough to use mediation. Pennsylvania offers the option of no-fault divorce, so you and your spouse sign an affidavit of consent, you can obtain grounds for a divorce after 90-days, which is considered a cooling off period. If either of you does not agree to the divorce, you must live separate and apart for at least two years from the date of filing before grounds can be established.

If you are the filing spouse, you will need to contact an attorney and complete the paperwork with the court to file. That paperwork is then served to your spouse, and he or she is given two years in which to respond. If you are served with divorce papers from your spouse, you have two year to respond. Regardless of whether you are the filer or you receive the request after your spouse files, it is essential you seek the counsel of an experienced divorce attorney.

What is a Legal Separation in Pennsylvania?
Legal separation in Pennsylvania has some similarities to divorce, but there are also some significant differences. Divorce requires spouses to sign a divorce agreement and file this in the court in the county in which they want to divorce. In a legal separation, parties are also required to enter into a legally-binding agreement that settles all their affairs. The difference is they do not file a divorce decree with the court. Many couples sign a legal separation agreement on their way to a divorce, and some just leave that arrangement in place without ever legally divorcing.

There are many reasons a couple might choose legal separation over divorce, including emotional, financial, tax, religion, or estate reasons. Some also remain legally married but separated so one can remain on the other’s medical health insurance.

Spouses are legally permitted to date others as of the date of separation without financial consequences, should they choose to pursue divorce. It is important to work with an experienced attorney whether you plan to remain legally separated or pursue divorce. This is especially true if you are concerned anything that occurs during your separation could eventually affect your divorce agreement.

What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process by which couples can divorce without involving the court system. It is considered a more amicable option and prevents the win-loss scenario that often occurs when a marriage is settled in the courtroom. Mediation puts complete control of the divorce arrangement into the hands of those most affected: the divorcing spouses. It also allows them to make important decisions concerning their children and their assets without interference from a third party. Mediators assist divorcing couples in discussing the issues and exploring all of their options, including ones that might seem unconventional and that would not be an option if their divorce were to go to trial.