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No Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania

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In this video: Firm partner and Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer Melinda Previtera covers the basics of a PA Divorce, including the grounds for a Fault and No-Fault Divorce in the Keystone State.
Melinda Previtera, Esquire
Divorce Lawyer in Philadelphia

What is No Fault Divorce?

In Pennsylvania, a no-fault divorce is a type of marital dissolution where it isn’t necessary to prove that one spouse was responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. This type includes a two-year separation waiting period, where parties have lived separately for two years, indicating the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Pennsylvania law identifies two forms of no-fault divorce:divorce by consent and divorce after two years of separation. These allows for a more straightforward process that avoids the often mucky particulars of marital misconduct. No-fault divorce offers a less adversarial and more private method of ending a marriage, focusing on future resolution instead of past grievances. No-fault divorces tend to be less expensive and contentious than fault-based divorces, although fault-based divorces are an option in certain cases related to custody and support.

History and Impact of No-Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania

Prior to 1980, divorce in Pennsylvania required grounds under fault divorce law, such as abandonment, adultery, cruelty, bigamy, or imprisonment. No-fault divorces became part of Pennsylvania’s legal code, offering an alternative that doesn’t necessitate proving marital misconduct. No-fault divorce was introduced in Pennsylvania in 1980 to eliminate the blame game associated with divorce proceedings and make the process more amicable. Initially, divorce rates surged as unhappy couples found an easier way out. However, divorce rates stabilized over time, indicating that the law change didn’t lead to increased marital instability. The introduction of no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania was a progressive step towards respecting individual choice and prioritizing emotional well-being.

The Role of “Fault” in Modern Divorces

Most divorces now are no-fault, meaning the reasons for the divorce – adultery, desertion, mental illness, etc. – do not affect your ability to get divorced. Instead, in most states, including Pennsylvania, you can get divorced if both spouses consent or if you have been separated for a certain period of time, determined by state law.

However, fault remains relevant to property distribution and alimony determinations. This may not be the case in every court, but courts may consider fault grounds for divorce in deciding how to divvy up assets and liabilities or how to award alimony.

Therefore, it is best not to flaunt, either on purpose or accidentally, any activities that might put you at fault in the court’s eyes. This is most relevant to divorces that were caused by adultery. If an adulterous relationship caused your marriage to break up, you should consider putting that relationship on hold while you go through the divorce. Dating that person during the proceedings can not only inflame the angers of your spouse, but it also exposes you to the risk that your extramarital activities might influence the outcome of your divorce.

Looking for more Information? Download our FREE Guide “Leaving the Family Home”

Advantages to Pennsylvania No Fault Divorce

We struggle to use the word “advantages” and “divorce” in the same sentence.  We know that even in the best of circumstances, a divorce is a life-changing event and that while the final outcome may be advantageous, the process of getting there is often difficult.

That is why we work to the best of our abilities to help families through the process of divorce.  When possible, we advise families to consider no fault divorce.  A no fault divorce has three distinct advantages over a contested divorce.  Specifically:

  • No Fault Divorces are Typically Less Expensive. If you and your soon to be ex-spouse agree on child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division then there is less to be negotiated by your lawyers or decided by a judge.  This may significantly reduce your attorney’s fees and allow your family to keep more of your own money.
  • No Fault Divorces May be Faster. Without having to go back and forth negotiating aspects of your divorce or waiting for a judge to have court time to hear your case and then issue a ruling, your divorce may be finalized faster than in a contested Pennsylvania divorce proceeding.
  • No Fault Divorces May be Less Painful and Lead to Better Post Divorce Relationships. Quite simply, you stay in control of your future when you enter a no fault divorce.  You, together with your soon to be ex-spouse, decide what is best for your family instead of leaving it to strangers to decide. If there are children of the marriage, or another reason for ongoing communication, a no-fault divorce may lead to open communication and a better post divorce relationship than a divorce decided by the courts.
  • No Fault Divorces Allow for More Privacy. With a no fault divorce, intimate details of your relationship and reasons for the separation often remain private. In contrast, contested divorces often require airing private matters in court, which are then recorded in public records. By choosing a no fault divorce, individuals can maintain a higher degree of personal privacy and dignity during this challenging period.

No Fault Dvorce Process

When you decide to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, the process begins with submitting a divorce complaint. This complaint is a formal document that outlines the basis for the divorce, which, in the case of a no-fault divorce, does not require the specification of marital misconduct. The divorce complaint marks the official start of the legal proceedings for divorce.

Is Your Divorce Really No Fault?

In Pennsylvania, when seeking a dissolution of marriage. One alternative is a fault-based divorce, where one spouse alleges that the other is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage due to reasons such as adultery, cruelty, or desertion. While this route often requires a higher burden of proof and can lead to a more contentious divorce process. If you believe that your divorce is a fault divorce, it is recommended that you consult with a divorce lawyer, such as one of the Philadelphia divorce lawyers at Petrelli Previtera, LLC. They can discuss the details of your case with you and explore all available options to determine the one that best fits your individual circumstances.

Additional Resources and Support

Petrelli Previtera, LLC offers a range of resources on our website. These include articles, guides, and tools related to divorce in Pennsylvania, including answers to common questions such as how long does divorce take in PA, the costs to expect during divorce, and information about legal terms and questions such as the types of divorce in PA and grounds for divorce in PA. These focus on supporting clients through this challenging time.

For more information about a Pennsylvania no fault divorce, please contact a Pennsylvania no fault divorce lawyer to discuss your options.

If you are in need of more information or want to consult with one of our attorneys, please contact the attorneys of Petrelli Previtera, LLC at 866-465-5395.

Which divorce is right for you? It depends on your circumstances. Petrelli Previtera, LLC works to protect every client’s best interests – now and in the future. Call us at 866-465-5395 to learn how we can help you.

Client Testimonials

Here's what our clients have to say about working with us. Please note, results may vary based on individual circumstances.

Melinda Previtera, Esq. came highly recommended to our family. Her knowledge base, professionalism, and compassion paved the way for a successful outcome. Melinda is efficient, detailed, and informative. She helps manage expectations, and postures her client for a fair and equitable result. We are happy to recommend Melinda!

Jennifer A.

My experience was very good. Everyone was professional and attentive to my needs, keeping me updated every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for a better result, highly recommended.

David R.

My marriage life has been a hell for me for the past four years until I decided to put an end to what has to be ended. Choosing a lawyer was another additional stressful part of the long process. I’m so glad that I’ve found the right one for me at Petrelli Previtera. Life isn’t always fair, but at least having her in my corner, felt even better. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough!

Caitlin B.

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