One of the most frequently asked questions our office gets from new or prospective clients is how long it will take to get divorced. Will it be a short affair or a prolonged battle? Unfortunately, the answer varies on a case-by-case basis, although there are general guidelines to keep in mind.
Since passage of the updated Divorce Code in 1980, most divorces in Pennsylvania are no-fault, meaning adultery or other acts of misconduct do not affect resolution of the parties’ economic claims. There are two types of no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania: divorce by consent and divorce after a 2-year separation.
Under both types, the court will grant “grounds for divorce,” basically an okay that you can be divorced once your economic claims are resolved, after a certain time. For divorces by consent, pursuant to Section 3301(c) of the Divorce Code, both you and your spouse can sign an affidavit indicating your consent to the divorce once 90 days have passed since service of the divorce complaint. Once these affidavits and some other paperwork are filed with the court, the court should approve grounds for divorce.
If your spouse doesn’t consent, you can proceed unilaterally via the 2-year separation type of divorce, pursuant to Section 3301(d) of the Divorce Code. Once 2 years have passed since your separation, you can get grounds approved. The only hiccup could be if your spouse denies the marriage is irretrievably broken or contests the date of separation, causing the need for a court hearing on one of these issues.
For divorces where there are no property issues at stake, you can plan the timing based on the 90-day and 2-year rules. However, if there are property issues, you generally cannot get divorced until those issues are resolved. The lengths of such cases run the gamet from a few months to many years and depend on the levels of contention and complexity involved.
For more practical advice on divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact the Philadelphia divorce lawyers at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel.