However, things sometimes take a different turn and a divorcing spouse may wish to date or get in a serious relationship with another person while the divorce is pending. As this happens, questions may arise about the repercussions of the decision to date during a divorce may be.
It is important to first consider on what grounds the petition for divorce was filed. Pennsylvania law allows for fault-based divorces, including on the basis of adultery. If the person who the divorcing spouse wants to date was a person the spouse was having an affair with before the divorce, the continued relationship may be used in court as evidence of the adultery.
If a divorce is granted on the basis of adultery, it may affect the amount of alimony awarded in the divorce only if the adultery is connected to spousal abuse. Pennsylvania law prohibits judges from considering marital misconduct when awarding alimony unless the misconduct is abuse. Dating during the divorce can affect the amount a spouse gets when the court divides the marital assets if, for example, the spouse is using marital funds or assets towards the new relationship. This could include buying lavish gifts, paying for vacations, or even buying a joint home with the new romantic partner using marital funds.
Considerations when Establishing Date of Legal Separation
When marital funds are dissipated in this way, the court can award more to the other spouse to ensure an equitable distribution. Robert J. Lynelle A. Melanie J. Shauna L.
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Whether the parties slept in the same room. Whether the parties ate meals together. Whether or not the parties took vacations and outings together and whether or not those outings were for the benefit of the couple or for any children. Whether the parties lived separate lives. Whether the parties had sexual relations.
Title 23 - PA General Assembly
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If you and your spouse separate households, this may give rise to a claim for spousal support under the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines. The claim is initially filed with the county domestic relations office. A claimant need not file a divorce petition as a prerequisite to being eligible for spousal support. Theoretically , you could collect spousal support for an indefinite period, or for as long as you are eligible to collect under PA law.
If a divorce petition is subsequently filed by either you or your spouse, a divorce agreement is signed and the court issues a final divorce decree, spousal support then terminates. It is best to have an attorney who is well-versed with the law in your jurisdiction prepare it for you. The separation agreement is not valid in Pennsylvania unless both parties have signed and their signatures are notarized on the document. Never try to prepare such a complex and important document yourself - this is a job for a specialist.
A couple that is separating can agree on a division of property in their separation agreement, and that agreement will be legally binding on them. Child support may be available to a spouse upon a separation of spouses to two separate households. A divorce action need not be officially filed in order for a spouse to make a child support claim.
You cannot compel your spouse to sign a separation agreement or to agree to the terms you wish to impose on him or her in the agreement.
A spouse generally has the right to remain on the other's health insurance, with or without a separation agreement, for all periods up until a divorce decree is issued in their case. There have been a few exceptions with certain union employers, however, who have taken the position that health insurance benefits will terminate for a spouse who is on the other spouse's policy when the couple physically separates to two households.
Therefore, depending on the employer's health insurance plan, you should confirm the employer's policy in advance prior to proceeding with a separation agreement, out of an abundance of caution. In PA, the date of separation is determined by when you stopped acting like a married couple.
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This could include, but not limited to things like sleeping in separate rooms or moving out, separating bank accounts, dating other people, etc. There is no specific rule. Of course, you and your spouse may specifically negotiate the legal date of separation in your agreement as you address the division of all of your marital assets and debts. The existence of a separation agreement may not necessarily make a divorce in Pennsylvania any easier or more difficult to obtain.
A separation agreement is a contract between spouses. It cannot bind third parties such as banks or finance companies that have not signed it. If, however, one spouse promises to pay a bill or otherwise assumes a debt in the agreement, and then breaks that promise resulting in your having to pay, you can sue your spouse for breach of contract and restitution of the amount of money you had to pay the third party creditor on their behalf.
Contempt of court is the failure to obey a court order without legal justification. It is not contempt of court to violate a separation agreement unless the agreement has been approved by a judge and made a part of a court order. You may, however, sue your spouse for breach of contract n civil court if he or she violates the separation agreement. In a separation agreement, a lawsuit for breach of contract is one possible remedy for breaking the promise of not hassling each other.
The terms you include for child support, custody can always be modified by the court in the best interests of the children. In the absence of proof to the contrary, however, there is a presumption that the terms concerning the children in your agreement are fair, reasonable and necessary for the best interest and welfare of the children.
Unlike the terms concerning children, which are always modifiable by the court, the terms that pertain to adults cannot be modified by the court except in very limited circumstances. For example, if the separation agreement has been incorporated into a court decree, but not merged therein, then the court has the power in Pennsylvania to modify alimony terms based on a substantial change of circumstances, as long as the contract specifically states that the alimony, is modifiable. If the terms involve property division and the agreement has been incorporated, the court can only modify it if it is executory in nature i.
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