Category Archives: Divorce Procedure


Negotiating a marital settlement agreement during an uncontested divorce can seem overwhelming. You are trying to figure out the best way to get what you need and survive after the divorce; add the emotional aspects and you might feel like giving up before you even start. We’ve put together some tips to help you get started with your marital settlement agreement.

The first item to keep in mind is you are not usually going to get every single thing you want. Remember, it’s a negotiation. Both parties should walk away with some sense of a secure financial future. This is not the time to try to take advantage of your spouse or “stick it” to him or her. The goal is to save money by not having to go to court, where a judge will tell you what you get.

Keep focused during your negotiations. This is not the time to bring up complaints or emotional hurts, consider it a business deal which will affect the rest of your life. When communicating with your spouse:

  1. If you can’t be nice, at least be civil;
  2. Listen to your spouse, but don’t get dragged into a fight;
  3. Be patient, you may have to meet a couple of times to get the details finalized. It’s unusual to work out a marital settlement agreement in one meeting;
  4. Know what to compromise on; and
  5. Pick a neutral place to negotiate. The last thing you want are reminders of what went wrong or someone butting into your personal situation.

Don’t show up to your meeting and figure whatever happens is what was meant to happen. Show up prepared with a list of items you want to negotiate. Some individuals show up with a timer. This helps them not to linger on a topic and move on to the next issue. If you use a timer, negotiate how much time you’ll spend on each topic with your spouse. If you are having a hard time on a topic, leave it for another day.

Here are some topics you may want to consider as you move through your marital settlement agreement:

  1. Lawyer fees and legal divorce costs;
  2. Spousal support and/or alimony;
  3. Child support;
  4. Pets;
  5. Grandparents’ role;
  6. How to handle the needs of a special needs child;
  7. Creating a list of marital property;
  8. How to divide the marital property;
  9. Creating a list of marital assets and debts;
  10. How to handle the house;
  11. How to handle your child’s school year;
  12. How to handle your child’s birthday, holidays and special events;
  13. Taxes,
  14. Health insurance,
  15. Timeshares;
  16. Frequent flier miles;
  17. Pensions;
  18. Changing names on deeds;
  19. How to handle items of transportation – i.e. car, motorcycle, boat;
  20. What happens when an ex-spouse does not fulfill an obligation – i.e. child support or spousal support;
  21. How to handle any business you or your spouse are involved in;
  22. How to handle counseling for you and/or children; and
  23. How to handle religious training for your children.

Also, don’t be shy about asking your divorce attorney for a guide and/or some tips on negortiating marital settlement agreements.

Residency Requirement for Divorce in Pennsylvania

In most parts of the United States, people cannot move to a new state and file for divorce shortly afterwards. Instead, most states require that people meet what is called the “residency requirement” before they can file for divorce. Does Pennsylvania have a residency requirement? Yes, like most other states it does. In order to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing. Additionally, the spouse who files for divorce must file the papers in the court where the other spouse lives. This is not usually an issue because in many cases, the spouses live in the same county at the time of filing for divorce, but not always. If you wish to file for divorce and your spouse now lives in a different county than you, you have options. You can file for divorce:

  • In the county where you both lived while you were married providing you have lived in the same county continuously since you separated from your spouse,
  • In the county where you live as long as your spouse agrees to it, or
  • In the county where either of you currently live if neither of you still live in the county that you lived in when you were married to each other.

If you wish to file for divorce and your spouse moved out-of-state, you may file in the county where you live. Since travel can get expensive, the family courts in Pennsylvania have several filing options available so spouses can minimize the travel associated with obtaining a divorce.

No-Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania

At Cairns Law Offices, we help people obtain low-cost, no-fault divorces throughout Pennsylvania. If you and your spouse are willing to reach an agreement on matters pertaining to child custody (where applicable),property and debt division, we would be happy to help you achieve a quick, expedient divorce.

To learn more about our divorce services, contact us today!

Why is the Date of Separation Important?

If you are planning on getting a divorce in Pennsylvania, the date of separation will be important for more reasons than one. The date of separation is not black and white and it is NOT the same for every couple. Sometimes, it’s easy to determine; for example, it’s the day the husband moved out of the house, but it’s not always that simple.

For instance, a husband could have moved out and onto his best friend’s couch, or back home with his parents, but if he’s been going back to his wife and having sexual relations and the couple have continued going to dinner or bars together with friends, the courts may not see this as a legitimate separation.

In the example above, suppose the husband has been staying someplace else for six months and one day, his wife says, “We cannot be intimate anymore,” and they stop going on friendly “dates” with their mutual friends, then that may be the actual date of separation. In other words, they need to stop “acting” like a married couple by doing things together that couples do, such as going on dates and being intimate.

Sometimes, a couple can be considered separate and apart even when they live under the same roof. This can happen when the couple has not been having sexual relations for a long time, when they’ve been sleeping in different bedrooms, and when they have stopped sharing meals together.

Why the Separation Date Matters

Why does the separation date matter so much in a Pennsylvania divorce? For one, under Pennsylvania law the separation date commences the one-year waiting period to obtain a no-fault divorce. Second, that’s the date that the assets (or debts) acquired by the spouses are no longer marital and subject to division.

If you want to get divorced sooner than later, it’s important to start living “separate and apart” as soon as possible. Because, once that happens the clock starts ticking on your divorce. Until then, you’re at a standstill.

At Cairns Law Offices, clients can obtain a divorce for just $319 in as little as 30 days when they’ve been living separate and apart for at least one year. If you’d like to learn more, contact our firm today!


When people think of divorcing couples, they almost assume that the husband and wife can’t stand to be in the same room together. They imagine that they can’t wait to physically separate and move on with their lives. But, is that really the case? Not always, and if you’re reading this, you may be able to relate to what we’re about to say.

Some divorcing couples are still intimate with each other. Some of them still love each other, or at least still enjoy each other’s company. Maybe they’re still best friends. Maybe they’re wildly attracted to each other, but can’t make the marriage work. Maybe one of them cheated, but the innocent spouse still finds comfort in their spouse’s arms, but he or she is through with the marriage.

As divorce attorneys, we know it happens. Some couples decide to have a no-fault divorce, but they can’t help going out on double dates with friends, sharing the same bed, or at least ending back in the throes of passion despite the divorce. The question is, “Can married couples continue to date, to be intimate with each other during their divorce?”

What The Courts Think About It

In some states, such as California or Nevada, the family courts could care less about divorcing spouses who are romantic with each other, but in Pennsylvania, it’s frowned upon. Whether the citizens of Pennsylvania like it or not, our family courts do care.

In fact, the courts can go so far as to not grant a divorce if a divorcing couple is still acting and behaving like they’re married and in an intimate relationship. You see, to get a no-fault divorce, you must be separated for one full year before you can commence the divorce process. If you’re still intimate with your spouse, this can delay your divorce proceeding.

In our post, “Why is the Date of Separation Important?” we explain how the courts don’t consider a couple separated until they stop acting like a couple, which includes having sexual relations with one’s spouse. So, if you’re certain that you want a divorce, we suggest physically separating from your spouse as soon as possible. This way, there’s no chance the courts will prevent you from filing your divorce action.

To learn about our low-cost divorce services, contact our firm today!


Some states, such as California allow married couples to get legally separated as an alternative to divorce. In California for example, a married couple can get legally separated to give themselves time to see if they want a divorce, or if they don’t believe in divorce, they can get legally separated instead and remain that way indefinitely.

In the meantime, the California family courts can issue orders regarding child custody, child support, asset and debt division, and spousal support. So, can Pennsylvania couples get legally separated like couples in places like California?

Is There Legal Separation in PA?

Pennsylvania does not recognize legal separations. If you’re “separated” from your spouse, it means the two of you are living separate and apart, whether you’re living in two households or even under the same roof.

Separation between married spouses can occur when:

  • The couple mutually agrees to get a divorce.
  • One spouse kicks the other spouse out of the house.
  • One spouse voluntarily moves out of the house.

Divorce Requirements in Pennsylvania

In order to get a divorce in Pennsylvania, you have to meet certain requirements. For starters, you must meet the residency requirement. To meet the residency requirement, you or your spouse, or both of you, must have lived here for six months before you can file for divorce.

Second, you must be “separated” for one yearbefore you can file for divorce. If you are still living together, this can get a bit tricky, especially if you’re still having marital relations and sleeping in the same bed. While it’s best for the spouses to be living in separate households, if that’s not convenient, we advise sleeping in separate bedrooms and living separate lives – no date nights and no more dinners with friends “as a couple.”

Once you break up and decide to get a no-fault divorce, you want to make sure that you are no longer behaving as a married couple, otherwise it could delay your divorce proceedings and derail the one-year waiting period imposed by the courts.

Related: Why is the Date of Separation Important?

To learn more about the separation requirements for divorce in Pennsylvania and our $319 divorces, contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC today!


Some of the best outcomes of divorce come from couples that seek to do so collaboratively. A collaborative divorce is one where the couple works out the details of their separation without the need for the court. While a lawyer must be used to ensure the legality of the process, a couple that separates collaboratively has full control over how their property, assets, and debts will be separated, as well as how custody of their children will be split.

Why should I consider a collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce allows a couple to divorce more quickly than in court, as extensive time battling it out can drag on, and as a result is significantly cheaper. Additionally, there are some methods available for those seeking to divorce amicably to do so online.

Getting a divorce online and working with an attorney for a limited period of time removes some of the most common gripes people have with their divorce lawyers:

  • Talking down to them since they do not have a detailed understanding of the law
  • Not taking the time to answer questions in a rapid manner
  • Breaking promises and not keeping their word in regards to contacting their client
  • Not giving the client updates on the status of their divorce
  • Dropping projects on the client and getting aggressive if they miss a deadline
  • Treating clients like they are crazy

Why go through the process of dealing with an attorney for an extended divorce when you have the option for a quick, easy, and cheap collaborative divorce? While online divorce can still mean that you work with a lawyer, it is for a significantly less amount of time and dedicated to property division and other legal concerns.

If a quick, easy, and cheap collaborative divorce sounds good to you, contact No Contest Divorce, LLC. Serving all of Pennsylvania, our firm can process an online divorce case in as little as $319. Call for a free consultation and learn if our services are right for you!


On occasion, some married spouses lie about finances during their marriage. While it’s not illegal to keep a purchase secrete from a spouse or withhold the details about one’s earnings from a husband or wife – that changes when you get a divorce.

In fact, when couples get a divorce each spouse must be open and honest about their finances, including their income, assets and debts – it’s a legal requirement.

There’s something about divorce that makes some people want to lie or cheat to keep at least a portion of their assets all to themselves, without giving their spouse what they are legally entitled to.

Many divorcing parties are surprised to learn how common it is for spouses to try and hide assets from their soon-to-be exes. These methods range from getting cash back from the grocery store (making it look like the money was spent on groceries) to reporting less income to lower child support or alimony payments.

Some of these dirty tricks, include:

  • Reporting higher expenses
  • Working under the table
  • Not reporting cash income
  • Overstating liabilities and debts
  • Undervaluing marital property

When a spouse is considering hiding assets in hopes of keeping more of the marital property to themselves, they should think again. Not only is such a strategy misguided and underhanded, but it’s illegal and can cause serious negative consequences.

As an uncontested divorce firm, our clients are generally willing to reach a fair and reasonable settlement, but we have seen estranged husbands and wives test the waters to see what they can get away with, and we’re not alone.

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, about one-third of adults in the U.S. who combine their assets with a spouse or partner say that they have been deceptive about finances.

Such deceptive actions included hiding cash from their spouse (58%), hiding a statement or a bill from their spouse (30%), and lying about finances or debt (34%), according to an NEFE press release. While these behaviors aren’t illegal during marriage, they can mean big trouble during divorce.

Hire a Qualified Divorce Team

When you and your spouse sign the financial affidavit – which is required in every divorce case – you are both swearing under penalty of perjury that you’re telling the truth about your income, debts, assets and expenses.

If either of you lie under oath, there can be serious financial and legal consequences, which may include paying the other spouse’s attorney fees, paying fines, and in serious cases, incarceration to name a few.

If you’re divorcing, it’s critical that you hire a qualified divorce team, such as No Contest Divorce, LLC to not only handle your case, but explain how you should handle your bank accounts, cash, investments, and other assets and liabilities.

For the divorce support you need, contact us for a free consultation.


Reinforcing the stability of marriage while minimizing the impact of divorce should be the ultimate goal of divorce law in Pennsylvania.

That was the intention of the state’s lawmakers, but sadly, that was not the result.

Under current state law, divorcing couples must wait a mandatory two-year waiting period to obtain a no-fault divorce. Instead of giving couples the time to “think it over,” the law had the unintended consequence of promoting litigation and harming the well-being of children.

There is hope; after studying the process for more than 20years, legislation sponsored by Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) would cut that waiting period from two years to one year, and now the legislation is making its way through the General Assembly.

Last month, the bill was overwhelmingly approved by the House, and now it’s before the state Senate. Since the Pennsylvania Bar Association has seen first-hand the ramifications of a protracted divorce, they have made it known that they support this proposal.

How would the bill change the status quo? It would change it so the mandatory separation period goes from two years to one year in no-fault divorces filed based on irretrievable breakdown.

This means that after one year, the divorcing parties would be allowed to start dividing their assets and determining whether alimony should be awarded.

While the change may seem insignificant, it can have a huge impact, especially on families going through a contentious divorce. When divorce is delayed and the battle is prolonged, children don’t advance developmentally while parents continue arguing, according to family therapists who testified at a September House Judiciary Committee hearing.

In effect, children are often caught in limbo. They’re not sure what school they’ll attend, where they’ll live, or who they’ll live with.

What’s more, a bitter spouse overcome by disdain can willfully delay, for the full two years, the addressing of economic issues associated with the divorce.

As long as there is a two-year delay, there will be angry husbands and wives who continue to control their estranged spouses. The delay has proven not to help couples reconcile, as lawmakers originally hoped.

Tragically, Pennsylvania couples discovered that the two-year waiting period only prolongs the hurt for the divorcing parties and their children. A shorter waiting period will enable parents to create a stable routine for the children more quickly, and it allows financial issues to be resolved much faster.

Need a Pennsylvania no-fault divorce attorney? Contact No Contest Divorce, LLC today!


In the Pennsylvania legal system, people have the right to represent themselves in criminal and civil cases, but that does not mean they should. You’ve probably heard about criminal defendants firing their public defenders or private criminal defense attorneys and representing themselves, and as we all know, that never ends well. Is divorce any different?

From a legal standpoint you are entitled to represent yourself – this is called “pro se,” which means “on your own behalf” in Latin, but the practicality of this is highly questionable. If you ask any divorce lawyer, they will say that representing yourself is not a good idea, especially if you’re not an experienced family law attorney.

Would you perform your own dental extraction or heart surgery? Certainly not, and you don’t want to handle your own divorce either. What you would save initially in legal fees would most likely end up costing you dearly in the long-run.

Even in the friendliest, no-fault divorces, there are legal and financial matters that require legal expertise, such as:

  • Taxes
  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Property and debt division
  • Pensions
  • Retirement accounts
  • Life and health insurance
  • What to do with the marital residence
  • What to do with a business

When you file for divorce in Pennsylvania, it’s important that you understand your rights and responsibilities in regards to the topics listed above. If you do not handle one or more of these issues correctly, you could be giving up important rights without knowing it, and it’s just not worth taking the risk.

Mutual Consent Divorce in Pennsylvania

Let’s take a look at mutual consent vs. no-consent divorces: Pennsylvania does not operate like many other states, such as California, where you can get a divorce in about six months as long as one of you wants out.

Instead, if a spouse does not want a divorce in Pennsylvania, you have to live separately and apart for at least two full years before the state can grant you a divorce. It’s essentially delaying the inevitable, but until the laws change that’s the way it is.

Most divorce lawyers will attest that the majority of unhappy spouses do not want to wait two years to get divorced. Therefore, it’s considerably more favorable to seek a mutual consent, no-fault divorce. When our clients agree to a no-fault divorce, we can help them obtain a divorce in as little as 30 days, which is one of the shortest waiting periods for a divorce in the nation.

Quality Divorce Services Don’t Have to Break the Bank

When you file for divorce, it’s critical to have an experienced divorce lawyer representing you and looking out for your best interests. If you’ve been afraid to file for divorce because of the legal fees, you don’t have to fret any longer.

At No Contest Divorce, LLC, you can receive quality divorce representation at a fraction of the cost of other divorce law firms. As long as you and your spouse agree to a mutual consent, no-fault divorce, we can help you achieve a quick, affordable divorce in as little as 30 days. If you’re ready to get started, contact us today!


Instead of handling contested or litigated divorces, our firm focuses on helping spouses who are seeking an uncontested, no-fault divorce. While we may be the home of the cheap, “quickie” divorce, there’s nothing second rate about our services.

While we’re big advocates of a fast, no-fault, mutual consent divorce, we do not promote that our clients obtain a divorce without a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement is a legally-enforceable agreement between two divorcing spouses. Meaning, it will stand up in court.

The settlement agreement addresses important issues, such as what will happen to your children, who will keep what property, and who will pay which debts after the divorce is finalized.

While a divorce attorney can prepare a settlement agreement before, during, or after a divorce, we recommend that the spouses enter into a settlement agreement before the divorce is finalized.

Why Reach an agreement before the divorce is final?

Sure, you may be in a hurry to get divorced, but we don’t recommend rushing the divorce and putting the settlement agreement off “for another day.” You and your spouse may be on the same page about the divorce now, but afterwards, disagreements over property division, child custody, and debts may arise.

When you anticipate these potential setbacks before they arise and address them in a settlement agreement, you save yourself a lot of headache and frustration. You may even be saving yourself a few trips back to court (not to mention the expense) by getting it all in writing before your divorce is final.

We Prepare Settlement Agreements

As Pennsylvania no-fault divorce attorneys, one of our main services is preparing settlement agreements for our clients. We have the knowledge and experience to help you create a proposal for your spouse regarding child custody, visitation, and property distribution.

If your spouse has disagreements with one or more aspects of the proposal, or if they’d like to incorporate their suggestions, we’d be glad to go back to the drawing board and make the necessary changes until we reach an agreement that you both are satisfied with.

Even if you and your spouse have already made verbal agreements about your children and property, we’ll help draw up a written agreement so you can memorialize those agreements in a legally-enforceable legal document.

Learn more about the benefits of a settlement agreement and our low-cost divorce services by giving us a call today!