pa divorce terms
Young couple having serious problem in marriage[/caption]Divorcing can seem like an overwhelming process for anyone. There is suddenly an influx of new information to understand and options to choose, all while you’re trying to make the best decisions for your future. Each state has its own unique set of divorce laws, which can add to the confusion.

At Petrelli Previtera, LLC, we are dedicated to ensuring our clients are as informed as possible from day one. That means understanding the state-specific rules that dictate their options and what they can expect. Below are four terms you’ll need to know if you’re getting divorced in Pennsylvania.

No-fault Divorce

A no-fault divorce allows couples to divorce without an explanation. This divorce option has been part of Pennsylvania’s legal code for decades. In this state, there are two types of no-fault divorce:

  • Divorce by consent: Both spouses must sign and file an Affidavit of Consent 90 days after serving Form 1: Notice to Defend and Divorce Complaint.
  • Divorce after one year of separation: A person can file for a no-fault divorce without the other party’s consent if the spouses have been living apart for one year or longer. This waiting was reduced from two years to one year in PA in 2016.

It is still possible to file for divorce based on fault in Pennsylvania. However, most couples in the state file for no-fault divorce because they are often less expensive and less contentious than fault-based divorces. Every couple is different, so it’s important to speak with a lawyer to find out the best option for your situation.

Equitable Distribution

Pennsylvania is an “equitable distribution” state, which means PA courts divide couples’ marital assets and debts as it sees fair. Equitable distribution does not necessarily equal distribution, however.

The court does not consider fault or marital misconduct. Rather, in determining equitable distribution, the court uses factors such as the length of the marriage, the spouses’ ages and health, prenuptial agreements, income, and more.

Court Order

When the court makes or approves a decision in a couple’s divorce, it will sometimes issue a court order. For example, an order will cover the stipulations of a child custody agreement, alimony and child support, and more.

Although court orders are legally binding, you can update them in the future if necessary. The court that issues the original order has continuing jurisdiction, so it can modify them if your lives change.


Some couples can avoid some of the financial and emotional costs of divorce by settling through mediation instead of going to court. Divorce mediation may be a good option for divorcing spouses who can sensibly and comfortably discuss their goals and wishes.

To settle a divorce through mediation, an experienced divorce mediator meets with the parties. They work together to come to a divorce settlement agreement.

Questions About Getting Divorced in Pennsylvania? Contact Our Firm for Assistance.

If you have decided to divorce, we’re here for you. Contact the experienced family law team at Petrelli Previtera, LLC. We’ll answer your questions and schedule a consult to discuss your options.

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