The dissolution of a marriage is inherently complex, so it can quickly feature unpleasant surprises. However, understanding the general steps of a divorce proceeding in Pennsylvania may help to put one's mind more at ease. These steps apply to a divorce proceeding that involves divorce mediation as well, where both parties agree to try to find common ground and reach a divorce settlement outside of court.
First, an attorney of one spouse drafts a divorce petition, or complaint, which details why the spouse seeks a divorce and how this party would like to handle custody, financial and other matters. This petition is filed with the court. It's then served on the other spouse, who will typically want to respond to it. If the complaint is not answered formally, the party sued could lose certain legal rights.
The two parties can then exchange information and documents about issues regarding property as well as income. This information helps the parties as they negotiate the division of their assets. They can also use this information to make decisions related to alimony and child support, if applicable.
The benefit of going through mediation when making financial decisions during a divorce is that mediation is generally more amicable and thus less stressful than going to trial. Meetings are arranged with an impartial mediator who helps to facilitate a settlement (but cannot provide legal advice). Divorce mediation also usually takes less time than a litigated divorce, and therefore, it is less costly. A Pennsylvania attorney can offer guidance during the entire mediation process, right through to the entry of a final judgment of divorce.
Source: findlaw.com, "A Divorce Timeline", Accessed on June 21, 2017