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Additional Questions About Divorce

Here are answers to the most common questions that we get. Feel free to call and talk with attorney Jim Cairns if you have other questions.

  1. How do we handle divorces so inexpensively?
  2. Can my spouse or I file for divorce if one of us lives in another state or country?
  3. Can Cairns Law Offices represent both my spouse and I in the divorce?
  4. What do I do if I can't locate my spouse?
  5. Is there such a thing as a "legal separation" in Pennsylvania?
  6. Will you help me remove my spouse from our home?
  7. Do I need to divorce if I have entered into a Common Law Marriage?
  8. Can I get an Annulment?
  9. Can I get a divorce if I or my spouse is in jail/prison?
  10. What are the residency requirements for a no-fault, no-contest, simple divorced in Pennsylvania?
  11. When should I have my Settlement Agreement prepared?
  12. What is a Simple, Uncontested, No-Fault Pennsylvania Divorce?
  13. What If We Own Property or We Have Debt?
  14. What if we have children?
  15. Can you represent both my spouse and I?
  16. Do I have to go to court?
  17. How long will it take?
  18. Do we handle divorces so inexpensively?

1. How do we handle divorces so inexpensively?

Cairns Law Offices does two things that other law offices don't do:

  1. We see things through your eyes. When I went through my divorce, I represented myself. It was a tough time in a lot of ways, and I really wish I would have had somebody else to do it for me, but I didn't want to pay the crazy money that the local attorneys wanted. It struck me that there was a faster, easier, and more inexpensive way to get the job done. Our goal was to do a great job and help a lot more people out in the process. So that's what we did. Believe it or not, I paid more for my own divorce than I'm charging you, and I represented myself! So how is it done?
  2. The way we do it is different than other law offices, especially when you compare us to "the Competition". We use modern computer technology to save a ton of money on paper, mailing costs, and time. First, we've answered almost any of your questions here on our website, so please look it over carefully, especially STEP 1. Then, we use email whenever we can. We answer your questions through email, and we're very responsive (usually by the end of the next business day, if not sooner). This also eliminates the post office "losing the mail". On top of that, we offer a free initial phone consultation just in case you need to talk before we file your divorce. Finally, we do a great job of keeping you informed every step of the way. You really never have to wonder where your case stands, because we strive to let you know before you have to ask (this is assuming you choose email service, and not "snail mail" service). We also like the fact that we're "greener" than other law firms.

What does it all add up to? It equals a FASTER, EASIER, AND MORE INEXPENSIVE for you. It's about time that those other law firms had some competition that saves you money, isn't it? You work on you, we'll work on your divorce. There is never a need to come to our office or make court appearances.

2. Can my spouse or I file for divorce if one of us lives in another state or country?

Yes, if you or your spouse has lived in Pennsylvania for at least 6 months immediately prior to filing for divorce.

3. Can Cairns Law Offices represent both my spouse and I in the divorce?

No. I can only represent one of you. I can prepare the divorce paperwork and a Settlement Agreement (if you choose that service) and present them to your spouse. I cannot and will not represent both parties no matter what the case.

4. What do I do if I can't locate my spouse?

You need to know where your spouse is in order for us to serve them the divorce paperwork. If you cannot locate them we cannot take your case. Also, if your later find out that your spouse moved away and is no longer available and/or becomes uncooperative, you must dismiss us and hire another law firm to represent you. So, how do you locate your spouse? The more information you have, such as social security number, date of birth, full first, middle and last name, the better. There are several lower-cost alternatives.

You can try any or all of these solutions: You have the divorce paperwork delivered to your spouse indirectly through another person, as long as they can get your spouse's signature. The other person doesn't have to tell you where your spouse is located. Or, talk to your spouse's past and current friends, family, employer, business associates, landlord, clergy, acquaintances where they often go (the gym, a pub, dance class, cake-decorating class... you get the point), telephone directory, directory assistance, the local support court, the social security office, the US. Postal Service address service (call them, not us), and last but not least, the internet. There are several websites that offer to people for a fee. You can also hire a private investigator.

Last and most expensively, you can hire a full-service law firm to accept your case. They will conduct an investigation and may have to do advertising in several newspapers.

5. Is there such a thing as a "legal separation" in Pennsylvania?

No. You are married or you are not. You may get divorced and live at the same residence, however.

6. Will you help me remove my spouse from our home?

No. We cannot help. If you are being threatened or abused by your spouse, call your District Justice immediately (we do not have their number).

7. Do I need to divorce if I have entered into a Common Law Marriage?

Yes, but a common law marriage entered into anywhere after January 1, 2005 is not valid in Pennsylvania. If you are not sure if you have entered into a common law marriage, the only way to know for sure is to go to Court to find out. We cannot do this for you. The Court will look at if you intended to be married by your words and actions. For example the Court will examine if you introduced yourself to others as husband and wife, change of address forms, joint tax return filings, hospital admission records, and so forth.

If you entered into a common law marriage and you want it to end, you must get a divorce. A simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce can be obtained inexpensively. This is one way to avoid any possibility of the Court later finding that you have a common law marriage, and may avoid expensive problems in the future.

8. Can I get an Annulment?

We do not handle annulments.

There are two types: a legal annulment, and a church/religious based annulment.

Court annulments are rare. Some reasons may be because you married someone who was still married; one party was under 16 years old; marrying someone who is too closely related; physical threats (a gun to your back?); being drugged or drunk; fraud or duress; mental incompetency. Legal annulments are time-consuming and expensive. The short amount of time you were married or failure to consummate your marriage are not grounds for legal annulments.

A church or religious-based entity is not the same as a legal annulment. Only a legal annulment or divorce gives the parties the right to remarry. A religious-based annulment gives the parties the right to remarry through their religious organization. A party in a religious-based annulment is not represented by a lawyer, but may be counseled through the process by a priest, minister or rabbi.

You may get a simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce, and then get a church/religious annulment after the divorce is granted by the Court.

9. Can I get a divorce if I or my spouse is in jail/prison?

Yes. The procedure is the same. The jail/prison address is the "residential address" of that spouse.