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Anyone have PA divorce exp? Friend getting bad advice?

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sad12008 posted 10/21/2013 22:03 PM

Has anyone got experience filing in Pennsylvania? I have a slightly older friend who's unfortunately got a WH who's now moved out of their home and shacked up with the OW. There's been some back-and-forth for a year, it seems. Now, my friend's consulted an attorney who told her that since her WH was being "okay about money" (he's in a very high paid field, she's worked part-time and raised their family), she shouldn't file for divorce but rather wait for her WH to file.

This seems hinky to me....PA has "fault" divorce for adultery (right?)...but I think there's a time limit? Anyone know if she needs to be getting a second opinion? Three decades of marriage, BTW. The whole situation is upsetting, but the thought of her possibly getting further scr*wed over is really bothering me.

Hope it's okay to throw this question out here.

Vulcanized posted 10/22/2013 01:28 AM

PA is a fault state, but it doesn't seem to matter. If he's been back & forth, i.e., sleeping w/both, that also negates the adultery aspect. Once the BS resumes sexual relations w/the WW, the adultery is deemed as condoned by the BS.

The length of the M will prolly work in her favour. I'd advise her to see a L, to get an idea of her options. See can file for support ad litem (sp?), where she receives support until the D is final. I would imagine after the length of the M, she would continue to receive support for a few years after the D.

This is what I recall from my L. GL to your friend.

Iamacrab posted 10/22/2013 06:52 AM

I am not an atty, just my thoughts...
PA does have fault but it's difficult to prove. What is her evidence of the adultery that broke the marriage? I mention that bc potentially w the back and forth the act itself didn't seem to break the marriage, from what you've described. There really has to be a lot of clear evidence and it's much more expensive in my own experience. If she goes that route id have him pay the costs.
I think possibly the attny said to wait for him bc once there is a legal separation she isn't entitled to any marriage benefits from that date (ie money he's making). I would think after that many yrs w such an income disparity she should file for and would be awarded support though.
I think she should consult another atty. multiple opinions cannot hurt and often the consults are free or inexpensive.
I personally found all 3 attnys told me basically the same info, I just felt better w the one I am using.

Take2 posted 10/22/2013 07:37 AM

I got similar advice in a similar situation in MA from all 5 atty's I consulted. Perhaps there is similar thinking on her atty's part - if in doubt she should definitely consult other atty.

My experience: MA is a fault state - but every atty said not to go there, judges hate A cases and it could backfire. There was no back and forth in my case he left on Dday and I had tons of email evidence, along with his written permission to be in his email.

Here is what the thinking was from my atty. Pre-filing - none of the support I received needed to be claimed as income. I was in the house, the bills were paid. Post-D... who knows...? Pre-filing - I was continuing to accrue interest in marital assets/pensions. I had health insurance. Waiting gave me time to set myself up better financially.

All five atty. said there was no advantage to filing first. So, seeing as the X was racing through one OW after another...I waited for the X to file - then counter-filed "cruel and abusive" in lieu of repeated promises of fidelity and repeated "womanizing".

It may have been more cathartic if I'd filed first, but financially life was going to be very difficult. During this time, I was reminded by a good friend that the pain wasn't going to stop just because I filed, or just because the D was final.

Not saying it was easy waiting for the shoe to drop and have XWH finally file - but none of this is easy. Both his atty and mine so it panning out the same way. 50% of marital assets, 50% of pension, and alimony. The one big difference I see - my X did not make "good money"... that might make a big difference... I don't know.

HopeImOverIt posted 10/22/2013 13:15 PM

I got divorced in PA but we filed no-fault. I too heard that fault is difficult to prove but I can't give any firsthand knowledge on that. It would seem that if he's openly living with the OW, the evidence of adultery is pretty conclusive. But her lawyer may have advised her that the advantages of filing "fault" aren't worth the extra costs.

I also heard that there is no advantage to being the one to file first in a no-fault situation.

PA has a 90 day waiting period after filing for mutually agreed no-fault divorces. The advantage of filing is that it starts that clock. You don't have to reach an agreement in those 90 days. And in fact you don't have to divorce at all. But once the 90 days from filing have passed, you are eligible to divorce as soon as you do reach an agreement.

Eventually she may get tired of waiting for her WH to file. There's no guarantee he's in any hurry to divorce. The same irresponsibility that makes a WH run out on his family may also manifest in not bothering with legal niceties.

sad12008 posted 10/22/2013 22:41 PM

Thanks, everyone...this makes me feel better. I still think it s*cks that cheating doesn't get weighed into the whole legal equation (heavily), but at least I know the advice she's gotten is solid and consistent with what others have heard.

Sigh. The whole situation is just awful. Pretty much a statement that applies to ...well....everyone here.

Thanks for the help!

Dadtryingtocope posted 10/23/2013 12:57 PM

I filed and got divorced here in the Keystone state. The fault/no-fault issue only applies to spousal support. So in my case I used it to avoid paying ss to my Ex ww. But your friend is the one with the lower income so in the grand scheme of things the fault issue seems like a moot point as she should get SS regardless.

As far as who should file first, I don't believe that really matters but I am also not an attorney. I filed first and I don't believe it cost me any more/less in the long run other than I had to pay the filing fees.

Others here have mentioned the timeframe and they are correct. I filed in Sept 2012 and was divorced in April 2013. Paving the way for my EWW to re-marry in Sept 2013. So depending on how negotiations go on asset division and support you can get done quickly. And you can stop the process at any time. If the other party does nothing once your file, then after 2 years I believe it goes to the courts and they decide. But I didn't get that far so her attorney should confirm. During that time she would be eligible for alimony pende light and CS if they have kids.

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