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Common Misconceptions In Family Law

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What Are Common Misconceptions In Family Law?


It’s all too easy to get incorrect advice about divorce and family law. Well-meaning friends, family and co-workers who went through a divorce decades ago may think they know how it works, but the law may have changed. Or friends in another state may understand how things work where they live, but not how it works in Pennsylvania.

Don’t let misinformation hurt your family law case or cause you unnecessary stress — rely only on legal professionals. Talk to one of our experienced, caring attorneys if you have questions. You can call our offices in Johnstown, Somerset and Windber at 814-792-2412.

Myths About Pennsylvania Family Law

You must be legally separated before you can divorce. Many people believe you need a legal separation in Pennsylvania before you can get a divorce. This is confusing because there is a required period of separation before a divorce can move forward. However, there is no legal separation document.

When you file an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must separate for 90 days. When you file a contested divorce and your spouse does not consent to the divorce, you have to live separately and apart for two years before you can get a divorce decree and the final division of marital property.

Marital property is divided 50-50. An “equitable” division of property does not necessarily mean the assets will be divided equally. An equitable distribution of assets is one that the court considers fair. Sometimes this is an even distribution of assets, but sometimes it is not. The party that needs the assets more may receive a larger share. However, each case is unique.

You can legally annul a marriage in Pennsylvania. People often confuse annulment with the legal process of ending a marriage. In Pennsylvania, however, you can’t legally annul a marriage. A church issues an annulment, not the court.

If you are seeking an annulment, you must get your spouse to agree to the annulment or the church will not recognize it. It’s possible to make that a condition of the divorce settlement. You should speak with a lawyer about this process.

Grandparents do not have rights. Every state is different, and many do not grant custody or visitation rights to grandparents. Pennsylvania family court permits grandparents to petition for custody or visitation with their grandchildren under certain circumstances. The same standard applies to this as it does to any custody case: what is in the best interests of the child.

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