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2 When people first start considering divorce, they are usually distraught because their lifelong plan is starting to change. No one goes into marriage expecting to divorce. But it happens more than anyone wants. If you think you are heading for a divorce, it is best to plan. Some preplanning may quicken the process and could take away some of the emotion. The steps described below will help you focus on the process at hand and provide you with direction. In matters like this, it is better to place your energy in productive action than dwell in the emotional negativity that develops during the breakdown of a relationship. Taking these actions does not mean you must follow through on the divorce. This is just preparation for the event if it occurs. If you take the steps set out in this material, it may shorten the discovery process and allow you to work out a fair resolution more effectively and efficiently. You ll have a better understanding of the marital estate and feel confident you are getting and offering a fair deal or as fair as possible, anyway. This can help the divorce move forward and give less time for the animosity to grow. We never like to see our clients in this position. When we do, our goal is to help you through the process as easily and amicably as possible. Medvesky Law Office, LLC Medvesky Law Office 15 Harbor Place Souderton, PA T: (215) F: (215)

3 BEGINNING THE DIVORCE PROCESS Any time a marriage ends, it is typically a highly emotional time. The divorce process can often be an exhausting and frustrating process for everyone involved. Understanding the technical divorce process from beginning to end will help you prepare for the steps ahead. To help understand this process, it is recommended that couples seeking a divorce hire a lawyer to represent each of them. A divorce attorney will assist you with the process from start to finish and will handle the procedural requirements and deadlines. This crucial legal assistance can ultimately help to alleviate the pressures and anguish felt by all the parties involved. INITIAL CONSIDERATIONS: There are several things you need to consider when contemplating divorce. What do I need? Gather Records: Throughout the divorce you will need many documents and records for both your lawyer and the court. It is a good idea to begin gathering these documents as soon as possible as some may take some time to locate or acquire. An early start on this will greatly reduce the stress having to rush to get all the records together. It will also alert you to the records that you are missing. Documents that you will need include: - General information about you, your spouse and any children including names, birth dates, current addresses and social security numbers; - Marriage Certificate; - Wills, trusts, estate planning documents of both you and your spouse (Often a guide to the marital assets); - Proof of grounds that you are seeking in a Fault divorce or proof of date of separation in a No-Fault divorce (a typical example is proof that one spouse obtained a separate residence); - Any Court Orders including Child Support and Custody Orders and Domestic Violence Orders; - Any Pre and Postnuptial Agreements; and/or - Financial Documents: This can typically be the most difficult part of document gathering. Especially when one spouse handled the majority of the financial issues in the marriage.

4 This can create complications during divorce proceedings if one spouse has limited knowledge of the couple s financial situation or where important financial documents are stored. The complexity of these documents can range from simple, easy to obtain documents to extensive, complex financial arrangements, depending on your financial situation and our attorneys will be able to guide you through this process. If you cannot find the information, we can obtain it though the discovery process. Generally, you will need at a minimum the following documents for both you and your spouse: o Income Information; Tax Returns Pay Stubs Proof of any other income (public assistance programs, child support, Social Security, rental income, business income etc.) o Asset Information; Bank Account Statements, individual as well as any joint accounts for you and your spouse Retirement and Pension accounts, stocks, bonds and similar assets Deeds or leases to property Automobile, motorcycle, boat and other vehicle titles Life insurance policies with cash values o Debt Information; Loans including mortgages, education, automobiles and personal. A list of monthly expenses and monthly bills Insurance Polices including health, dental, life, homeowners, and automobile Credit Card Statements, individual as well as any joint accounts for you and your spouse

5 Why will the court grant me a divorce? Grounds: Pennsylvania grounds for divorce can be broken down into Fault and No-Fault categories. Once the residency requirement for divorce in Pennsylvania is satisfied, the next step is to file a complaint for divorce. At the time of filing, the grounds for the divorce must be declared. This will determine whether the filing party or spouse will be seeking a no fault, or fault divorce. No-Fault: Under the Pennsylvania Divorce Code, No-Fault Divorce Grounds based on irretrievable breakdown, can be granted in two situations: - Mutual Consent: Where the parties have Mutually Consented to the divorce, known as a 3301(c) divorce). Ninety (90) days after commencement of the divorce action and the defendant was served, and both parties consent to the divorce, the court will have grounds to dissolve the marriage. However, if other claims are pending, like equitable distribution of marital property or spousal support, those issues must be resolved first. - Two-year Separation: Where the court finds there the marriage is Irretrievably Broken after a two (2) year separation (known as a 3301(d) divorce). In order to qualify for a divorce under Irretrievable Breakdown, you and your spouse must have lived separately from each other for at least two (2) years and the marriage must be irretrievably broken. If your spouse consents to the divorce, the process is can be easier, quicker and less expensive depending on the amount of cooperation between the parties and the complexity of other issues in the divorce such as equitable distribution. Fault: Fault divorces are very rare under the Pennsylvania Divorce Code. Fault grounds divorces can be granted only in situations where: - desertion, adultery, cruel and barbarous treatment or other behavior that has made the other spouse s living condition intolerable, - one spouse being sentenced to prison time for two (2) or more years, or - one spouse is committed to a mental institution for at least eighteen (18) months prior to the other spouse filing for divorce and there is not a likelihood of discharge for at least an additional 18 more months. Fault-divorce, especially if it includes showing grave mistreatment of one spouse by another, can be emotionally difficult for both parties. For this reason, most parties pursue a divorce under No-Fault grounds.

6 Where will I file for divorce? Jurisdiction and Venue: To determine if you are eligible to file for divorce, Pennsylvania must have jurisdiction and the county must be the appropriate venue. To file in Pennsylvania: You or your spouse must have resided in Pennsylvania for at least six (6) months prior to filing for divorce. To file in a Specific County: If you meet the 6 month requirement to file in Pennsylvania, you may then file in any county. Generally, parties file in the county where one or both of you reside. If one person files in a county where neither party lives, the non-filing party may request to move the case to the county he or she resides if there is a benefit to do so. The benefit is usually just ease to conduct the case. CONSULT WITH A LAWYER It is in your best interest, no matter how amicable you expect your divorce to be, to have a legal representative who is familiar with divorce practice in your county and can help you protect your long-term interests. Professional guidance through this process is crucial. It is extremely difficult for individuals going through a divorce to view their options in an objective manner. At Medvesky Law Office LLC, we pride ourselves on working hard to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients. After consulting with one of our attorneys, we will evaluate your situation and advise you of your options to successfully complete the divorce process. Our lawyers will guide you through this highly emotional process and help formulate the best options for negotiation. Mark M. Medvesky, Esq. Because every case, every person, and every set of facts are different and complex, clients need an attorney that can approach their problems and issues from many different perspectives. Government Officials, Law Enforcement Officers, Business Managers, the public, and clients all look at problems from their own perspective and analyze the law and issues from their own experience. Clients need to understand who and what may have the greatest impact on their case. Mark has the broad experience to advise his clients while considering all these factors. Mark attended law school at Temple University in Douglas Wortman, Esq Before going to law school, Doug worked in various positions with the US Air Force and the business world. While in law school, he interned as a law clerk for Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Sallie Updyke Mundy where he assumed research and drafting responsibilities for appellate court judicial bench memos and memorandum opinions in all areas of criminal and civil law, including criminal and civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, and family law. Doug graduated from Widener Law in May 2013.

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