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Collaborative Law Process

A form of law or legal practice emphasizing communication and cooperation, that allows couples in the process of separating or ending their marriage to work with lawyers, and if necessary, other family professionals to circumvent the uncertainty of court and attain a settlement benefitting both parties. Other professionals may include divorce coaches, financial neutrals and child specialists.

2017 Pa. H.B. 1664, 42 Pa. CSA Section 7400

A procedure to resolve a claim, transaction, dispute or issue without intervention by a court of law, in which all parties sign a collaborative law participation agreement, all parties are represented by counsel and counsel is disqualified from representing the parties in a proceeding before a tribunal.

A means of legal intervention to resolve a dispute between two (2) or more parties, with a mediator acting as a third party to negotiate a solution.

A process that is initiated by two (2) or more parties with the aim of enforcing or defending a legal right such as a complaint. This can be settled between the parties but can also be brought before a judge.

An agreement that disputing parties reach with assistance from an attorney or third party. Often described as “kitchen table” negotiations, this type of settlement negotiation occurs without use of formal mediation and either party may opt not to retain an attorney.

A method of dispute resolution where two (2) or more parties hire an arbitrator to hear both parties’ arguments and then reach a final, binding decision.

A type of divorce where neither spouse is at fault, or the spouse filing for divorce is unable to prove fault against the other spouse and must use a state honored reason for the proceedings.

Section 3301(c) of the Divorce Code – If a marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed since a Divorce Complaint was served, both parties may consent to the entry of a Final Divorce Decree.

Section 3301(c) of the Divorce Code – If one party alleges that a marriage is irretrievably broken, that the parties have lived separate and apart for more than a year and if the other spouse does not object to those allegations, the Court may enter a Final Decree in Divorce.

A divorce in which a plaintiff must prove that they are the injured or innocent spouse and that the other spouse is guilty of a form of misconduct such as adultery, desertion, cruel and barbarous treatment, bigamy, imprisonment for crime or indignities.

A personal arrangement between spouses outside of the courts by which a is couple legally married but may live apart.

Child Custody

By agreement or court order, parents or guardians memorialize, or define, what has been granted, determined or decided, as the ability and privilege of time and interaction between a party and a child. In Pennsylvania physical custody is defined as set forth below:

Primary custody or full custody – where one parent has all, or the majority of time with a child

Shared custody – Where both parents have frequent and continuing contact with the child, which is equal or close to equal time with the child (Pa. R.C.P. 1915.1)

Partial custody- Where one parent has primary custody and the other has the right to have the child with him/her for a certain period of time (Pa. R.C.P. 1915.1)

Sole physical – One parent has exclusive physical custody of a child (Pa. R.C.P. 1915.1)

Supervised custody - Where a parent’s custodial time with a child is supervised by an agency, parent or other adult designated by the Court

Visitation – The right to visit a child but not remove the child from the custodial parent’s control

By agreement or court order, parents or guardians outline the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent pertaining to a child to make long term decisions in raising the child and managing the child’s welfare. These rights include but are not limited to the child’s health, education, specifically choice of enrollment in school, religion and general welfare.

Shared legal: parents must agree on major decisions together

Primary or Sole legal: one parent has all decision making power for the child

A plan or schedule that serves as an agreement between parents, and details the obligations and responsibilities in raising a child. The physical custody schedule outlines which parent or guardian will be physically responsible for caring for the needs of the child at that particular time.

A form of guardianship which grants powers to a child’s grandparents without them needing to adopt the child.

23 PA CSA Section 5342

The quality or state of being a father to a child. Paternity is presumed for married couples and may be established for non-married couples.

23 Pa CSA Section and 231 Pa, Code Rule 1910.15

Any arrangement or solution between private parties that creates a mutually binding obligation under the law.

A written alteration or change to a custody agreement or Order of Court.

A change in residence of a child which can significantly impair the ability of a non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights.

23 Pa. CSA Section 5337

Conduct or behavior by a party or their attorney that bring disrespect to the authority or administration of the courts, such as violating court orders.

23 Pa. CSA Section 5232(g)


Continuous, periodic payments by a parent for the financial assistance of a child following separation and divorce proceedings.

A form of financial assistance that acknowledges a spouse’s contributions to a marriage and helps the partner gain financial independence.

A temporary financial assistance arrangement that can be granted prior to earning a divorce decree that allows the lesser earning party to have money available during trial.

An order of the court that legally obligates one spouse to provide financial support for the other based on the length of marriage and assets divided.

A family court case in which the parties marital estate is in excess of $750,000.

A legal route where one spouse may continue to support the other before, during and after legal separation.

Assessment as to the allocations of money for specific purposes. The purpose of which is to set a goal to not exceed a certain amount.