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Family law principles support 'friendly' divorce when possible

Pennsylvania family law provides for a no-fault divorce. If the parties agree to a divorce, they can allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken as the no-fault grounds. This does not necessarily eliminate issues of alimony, child custody and support. In most cases, where there is not agreement on those issues, a final divorce decree will not issue until the conflicts are resolved. There is also a family law provision that allows for a divorce after there has been a continuous two-year separation.

The two-year separation grounds do not require consent of both parties. As long as the plaintiff can prove that there has been a two-year separation, grounds for divorce are in effect established. However, despite a two-year separation, the court is not likely to grant a final decree until the outstanding contested issues regarding alimony, support and child custody/visitation are resolved.

Nonetheless, child custody and/or visitation can be litigated at any time, both before and after a divorce. The overriding concern of what is in the best interest of the children allows a parent to file for custody or for modification of an existing order at any time when there are changed circumstances over the status quo. Regarding what is in the best interest of the children, experts generally agree that a cordial, friendly divorce has the least damaging impact on the minor children.

How do two estranged spouses with children come together enough to have a 'friendly" divorce'? It seems counter-intuitive but most parents who are able to do it have placed the love of their children above any other concerns. Leaving aside selfish desires to prove a right, get revenge or engage in a scorched-earth campaign, those who engage in a friendly divorce are likely to be rewarded with the satisfaction of having raised mentally strong and self-confident children. This does not mean that the parents must relinquish their reasonable and just financial claims against each other.  Under Pennsylvania family law, each party is entitled to a fair division of property and to support and/or alimony benefits where the circumstances require it.

Source: howdoesshe.com, "Ways to have a friendly divorce when a split is inevitable", Sara Watkins, March 19, 2018

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