Divorce & Child Custody

Divorce & Child Custody

If you are considering divorce, you need an experienced attorney on your side who will explain the law and how it applies to your situation, and work to protect your interests.

Our attorneys take a simple and straightforward approach to divorce and child custody matters. During your initial meeting, your lawyer will ask questions to better understand your situation and your goals. Then we will prepare a plan and fight to protect your rights.

Pennsylvania Divorce

When filing for divorce, you must state a reason or reasons you want to end your marriage. These are known as the “grounds” for divorce. Pennsylvania law allows couples to seek a fault-based or a no-fault divorce.

No-Fault Divorce

A couple seeking a no-fault divorce can specify “irreconcilable differences” or an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” as grounds for the divorce. When you seek a no-fault divorce, you are telling the court that you and your spouse cannot get along and that there is no hope of repairing your marriage.

To be eligible to seek a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must have been separated for at least one year, or you must both consent to the divorce.

Once you file for a no-fault divorce, you must wait 90 days before the divorce will be granted.

Fault-Based Divorce

If you file for a fault-based divorce, you must identify the specific reason you are seeking a divorce, and you must be able to prove it with facts.

Pennsylvania recognizes several fault-based grounds for divorce, including:

  • Adultery;
  • Abandonment for at least one year;
  • Extreme cruelty or cruel and barbarous treatment;
  • Bigamy (your spouse married you without divorcing their first spouse); and
  • Felony conviction resulting in imprisonment for two or more years.

A fault-based divorce is more contentious than a no-fault divorce and, therefore, is often more expensive.

Property Division in a Pennsylvania Divorce

When dividing marital property, Pennsylvania courts apply equitable division without regard to fault. The court will consider:

  • Length of the marriage;
  • Prior marriages;
  • Age, health, education, employability, liabilities, and needs of each spouse;
  • Contributions by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other;
  • Economic circumstances; and
  • Whether one spouse will be serving as the custodian of any minor children.

Child Custody

There are two types of custody in Pennsylvania.

  • Physical custody refers to who the child lives with. One parent may have primary physical custody, or the parents may share custody.
  • Legal custody is a parent’s right to make major medical, education, religious, and legal decisions on behalf of a minor child. Parents can share legal custody, or one parent may be granted the sole right to make decisions for the child.

During a divorce, the judge will make custody decisions that are in the child’s best interests. When deciding custody, the court will consider:

  • Performance of parental duties;
  • The child's need for stability and continuity in education, family, and community life;
  • Relationships with extended family;
  • Sibling relationships;
  • Child preference (based on the child's maturity and judgment);
  • Attempts by either parent to turn the child against the other (except in cases of domestic abuse);
  • Willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • Ability to maintain a loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship with the child;
  • The child's physical, emotional, developmental, educational, and special needs;
  • Geographical proximity of the parents;
  • Level of conflict between the parents and their willingness to cooperate;
  • Availability to care for the child or make appropriate child-care arrangements;
  • Each parent's physical and mental health;
  • Any history of drug or alcohol abuse; and
  • Any other relevant factors.

The court may issue a child custody order that explains parenting exchanges, holiday visitation, child support, transportation, physical and legal custody, and other relevant issues.

The goal of the child custody order is to eliminate potential arguments by resolving disagreements before they arise.

Modifying Child Custody Orders

A custody order can be in place until the child turns 18 or is emancipated; however, child custody orders may be changed as the parents’ circumstances evolve. Pennsylvania law allows parents to seek a modification to the child custody order when it is in the best interest of the child.

The Kulick Law Firm: A Straightforward Approach to Divorce and Child Custody

At The Kulick Law Firm, we proudly represent hard-working people throughout Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. Our lawyers know that divorce and child custody is stressful. Let us ease your burden by providing thoughtful legal advice consistent with the highest ethical standards.

With over 20 years of combined legal experience, we have the expertise to help you navigate any family law situation.

To learn more, meet our team and read testimonials from other people we have helped. Then contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation.