Law Office of Kristine A. Michael, P.C.

Common Divorce Myths and Frequently Asked Questions

If you have been told that there is no such thing as alimony in Pennsylvania, this is not correct.  If you think you might be a candidate for receiving alimony, please call for a consultation with the attorney.

            It is not true that property is automatically divided 50/50.  The process of “Equitable Distribution” does not necessarily mean equal distribution.  Many factors influence how a marital estate is divided.

           If you have been told that you are “automatically” divorced after being separated for two years, this is incorrect.  You must apply for and receive a Divorce Decree from the Court in order to be divorced.

          If you are thinking of giving up property claims or alimony because you have been told by your spouse that you will be “charged” or “sued” for abandonment or adultery, you need to speak to an attorney.  Please give us a call.  This is simply not true.

          You should never plan a wedding for a new marriage until your divorce is complete.  Unexpected complications which can cause delays can occasionally happen.  This is especially true if your current spouse is not completely cooperative.

The issuance of a Divorce Decree ends the right to spousal support or alimony pendente lite.  If you are receiving spousal support or alimony pendente lite, be aware that you will be giving this up.  If you are paying spousal support or alimony pendente lite, your local Domestic Relations office needs to be informed so that they can terminate your order.

If you own a house (or any other asset) jointly with your spouse and you get a divorce without having a Property Settlement Agreement, you and your spouse become automatic 50/50 owners of the property.  One spouse can force the other to sell the home and the court would most likely divide any proceeds from the sale equally, no matter who has been paying the bills.

If you and your spouse have joint debt which your spouse agrees to pay, unless you have a Property Settlement Agreement, there will probably be nothing you can do if your spouse fails to pay and the creditor comes after you for payment.  You need a Property Settlement Agreement to protect your rights.

If your spouse has a pension, 401k, IRA or any other asset titled in his/her name alone, if you get divorced without a Property Settlement Agreement, you will lose your right to the marital portion of the asset.

It doesn’t matter if an asset is titled in your spouse’s name alone, even if it was acquired prior to the marriage.  Any value gained during the marriage is marital property.  “Value gained” could be the result of increased market conditions, pay down of a lien (such as mortgage), accumulation of interest or improvement of the property or any other factor which makes the asset worth more.  The same principle applies to debts.

            Divorce, equitable distribution and alimony are completely separate issues from child support and custody.  You do not have to resolve child support and custody in order to get a divorce.