In Pennsylvania, you are allowed to live together and still be considered separated for purposes of filing for a divorce. If you have been separated for one year or more, you finalize a Pennsylvania Divorce Code section 3301(d) simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce in as little as 4-8 weeks and there is no waiting period. If you have been separated for less than 1 year, under section 3301(c) the Pennsylvania Divorce Code requires a mandatory 90 day waiting period. Most times, a separated couple separates physically as well as in the marital sense of the word. Often, however a couple that is separated still live together, even if it not a healthy environment for one or both spouses.
There are many reasons that one of the separated spouses may not want to leave the marital home. Sometimes, after a husband and wife separate in Pennsylvania, it is not financially possible for one spouse to leave, especially if one spouse little or no income. Many times this situation works for a while, and the separated couple is able to cohabitate as roommates or housemates. Other reasons may be that both spouses wish to be near his/her children, want to stay close to the workplace, or still has hopes of reconciling and staying married. As long as the separated couple remains civil, they may be able to remain civil and live together for a while, eventually making the physical split at future time. But what if a spouse is simply spiteful and want to aggravate the other spouse or the environment in the home is unhealthy for one of the spouses or a child?
When the separated couple cannot live together civilly, then one of the spouses is usually asked to leave eventually. If they cannot agree, then the courts need to be involved. Basically, the court will decide who is to receive "possession" of the marital residence, whether it is an actual home, apartment, trailer, etc. In Pennsylvania, the court may award the right to reside in the marital property to one or both spouses while a divorce action is pending. This is a stressful and time-consuming, expensive way to deal with a living situation, as opposed to an uncontested Pennsylvania divorce where the spouses are civil and agreeable. You should be prepared to hire an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of cases. Factors that the court will consider when determining who gets to stay in the marital home include who is best able to afford the home, how the children will be affected, whether the other spouse can afford housing, and any negative conduct of either of the parties. As a result, be especially prepared to demonstrate the financial abilities of both parties. The court can also limit the award of possession of the home. In other words, you could be granted the home during the pendency of the divorce, but in equitable distribution, the home is awarded to your spouse as part of the division of the marital estate.
If you want to avoid the stress and save money, then try to resolve the situation between yourselves. Attorney Jim Cairns can draft an affordable marital settlement agreement that state your mutual agreement at a fraction of the cost of going to court.
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