Part 2 of 2

4.            “The complaint is full of lies about me.”

Of course it is.  But by operation of law every allegation in the complaint itself is deemed denied until proven. So if your wife alleges that you make more money than she does and you should have to pay for her attorney, understand that this is nothing more than her claim and she will have to prove it at the appropriate time. You may have to prove someday that your view of these facts is correct and hers is not, but just because it’s in a pleading doesn’t make it true or believable.

Now, here is the hitch. What we just wrote is true about the divorce, support or custody complaint itself. But in the package of documents served on you may lurk separate motions or petitions that have a cover sheet telling you that you must answer in twenty days or risk bad things happening. DO NOT IGNORE these little documents. You do so at your peril. Also, a divorce complaint may be accompanied by an affidavit stating you have been separated for two or more years. That affidavit must also be answered in a timely manner.

5.            “There is no alimony in Pennsylvania.”

Guess again.  And while how and when alimony gets paid has changed markedly, especially in the past six years, there has always been alimony in Pennsylvania. In olden times it was granted in very unusual circumstances. Today it is more the rule than the exception.

6.            “It’s no fault, so you are divorced in ninety days.”

If only that were true. In Pennsylvania you cannot consent to a divorce until at least ninety days after the complaint is served. And then, only rarely do people both promptly file their consents. Even more bizarre, a spouse who sues you for divorce is not required to consent to the divorce he or she filed. It sounds strange but it happens all the time.

Some states like New Jersey take control of a divorce action and shepherd the parties through the process. Pennsylvania is not so sophisticated. People dally with the process and ignore the system. It makes the system grossly inefficient and expensive but after 33 years of experience, no one seems to care. All of us have had clients who professed to “change” the system once they got through it. None has followed through; probably because the system sapped their energy and their resources