Ask a Lawyer and Get Answers to Your Legal Questions
Hello there. Were you expecting your attorney to file under the "fault" laws for divorce?
He never discussed this with me. I never knew until today there was a "fault" divorce.
I apologize for the delay. While fault grounds for divorce are available in almost everystate (there are a few states that have completely abolished the "fault" divorce grounds) these "fault" grounds are almost never used any longer in divorce cases because the courts are not interested in what led to the break down of a marriage for the most part -- it is so easy for the courts to simply issue the divorces under the no fault systems that the judges prefer to do it that way. There is some thought out there that if "fault" grounds are used for the divorce that the aggrieved party will get more of the marital assets than if the "no fault" divorce grounds are used. However, most courts will permit the aggrieved party to present evidence of fault during the property division phase of a divorce and if the parties are unable to agree on a settlement and a divorce agreement on their own, the judge has the discretion to award a higher percentage of the marital assets to the aggrieved party in the property division phase based upon testimony of wrongdoing in a marriage in the property phase. Because PA is an "equitable distribution" state for the division of marital property, it means that the judge will make his decision on property distribution based upon fairness -- so you can still press the issue of the wrongdoing in the marriage and ask for a higher percentage of the marital assets than the traditional 50/50 based upon everything he has done in the marriage. Either way -- whether you file a fault divorce with testimony of wrongdoing or you submit a claim for 60 or 70% of the marital assets in a no fault divorce based upon the actions of one party in the marriage, the end result will be the same -- you will get more of the marital assets based upon the fault in the marriage. That is most likely what your attorney was and is thinking by either filing a no fault divorce or responding to a no fault divorce. In addition to the practical matter that the end result is usually just about the same, if you want to pursue a "fault" divorce because there needs to be depositions and discovery and a lot more legal work involved, you would be looking at a much higher legal fee to pursue a fault divorce. My suggestion is that you have a conversation with your attorney about going after a bit more of the marital assets based upon his behavior during the marriage even if you are using a no fault divorce and see what your attorney has to say. You can certainly change it to a fault divorce if you want to do that -- but if there is not a lot of monetary gain to be had by claiming a "fault" divorce then your attorney seems to be taking the appropriate path here. However, you can seek out other local attorneys by contacting your local county bar association and asking for a referral to a divorce attorney in your area and they will give you several names and you can talk to a few more lawyers for little or no money.
Please let me know if you have questions.