Divorce after a year of separation

Last year, Pennsylvania amended its divorce code. The state now allows a person to file for a no-fault divorce without the consent of his or her spouse if they have lived separately for at least one year. The law marked December 5, 2016 as the starting date for the one-year waiting period. Spouses who have been waiting for one year to legally file for divorce in Pennsylvania are officially permitted to do so.

No-fault divorce became part of Pennsylvania’s legal code in 1980. By law, spouses previously needed to provide an explanation as to why they wanted to dissolve their marriages. No-fault divorce, on the other hand, enables couples to divorce without grounds.

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of no-fault divorce:

  • Consent: Couples may file a divorce petition, followed by an Affidavit of Consent after 90 days.
  • Divorce after a year of separation: One person can file if the spouses have lived apart for a year.

When Pennsylvania began recognizing no-fault divorce in 1980, the state required a three-year waiting period so couples had time to reconcile. After the three-year mark, a spouse could proceed without consent from his or her spouse. The state reduced the waiting time to two years in 1988. Still, advocates argued the long wait did more harm than good for families. Last year, Pennsylvania changed the law again from a two year wait to one.

This new rule can save spouses time, money, and emotional trauma. It is also a reprieve for individuals whose spouses do not consent to divorce.

It’s important to note that spouses who both consent to divorce do not have to wait a full year to file. A mutual consent, no-fault divorce is also an option in Pennsylvania. Both spouses must be available and willing to sign legal documents that state they agree to divorce. Then, there is only a 90-day waiting period to proceed.

Need to File for Divorce? Get the Right Help.

Regardless of whether you and your spouse consent to divorce or you’re planning to wait a year before filing on your own, it’s important to have the right information and to know your options. Feel free to contact Petrelli Previtera, LLC to schedule a consult and discuss your situation. We can explain how to best proceed.