Face it. How often do we get to smile and say nice things about our federal, state or local governments? In all fairness, I once lived in a township that was run extremely well and I wish I still lived there; however, that place is one of the rare exceptions to the rule. Otherwise, we are seldom moved to compliment any government under which we live, right?
Enter Pennsylvania’s 1980 no-fault divorce law. If you have a simple case wherein the two of you have fully settled your marital assets, neither of you will ever have to set foot in a courtroom. Handled efficiently, like my practice does, you do not even visit the lawyer’s office. And, as far as I know, Pennsylvania is the only state like that. No wonder I get so many hopeful people outside of Pennsylvania asking if I could take their cases. Sadly, I cannot, of course. Any place where one must show up in a courtroom for their simple, easy divorce, it is going to cost a lot of lawyer fees and court filing fees.
Getting to the point of this discussion, If neither of the parties in a divorce action lives in Pennsylvania and all that they owned was a rocking chair, that asset, a rocking chair, would have to be mentioned, possibly negotiated and decided upon in the filed documents. In Pennsylvania, on the other hand, a couple could, literally, own five separate mansions, dozens of expensive antique cars, several bank accounts with millions of dollars in each one and several businesses and, if the couple themselves decided, before the divorce was final, who would get what, none of those assets would need to be mentioned in the documents filed in Court. I find that rather remarkable… and I have had cases similar to that.
Accordingly, under Pennsylvania law, if a divorcing couple divides all assets in a way satisfactory to the couple and does so before finalizing the divorce, no settlement agreement is needed (which saves on lawyer fees) and no asset is required to be declared in Court in any way. Once such a divorce is final and each party has what it was agreed each party would have, neither party may successfully try to claim anything which the other party possesses.
Quite similarly, Pennsylvania law does not require that any mention be made in a divorce action of the support or custody of minor children. Why? Think about it. Once you are divorced, you are no longer spouses, but you are certainly still parents, and the Court remains available to resolve any issues concerning the kids that might arise in the future. So, if the couple has worked out a schedule for support and custody, the Court is quite pleased not to be required to “meddle” in it.
These facts contribute to the simplicity – and with the right lawyer, the low cost – of a simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce.