If your spouse is refusing to sign divorce papers, there are still some options to proceed with dissolving your marriage.
We welcome you to contact Petrelli Previtera Schimmel with questions about proceeding with a divorce in PA. Feel free to call us at (215) 523-6900 or schedule a consultation online. An attorney can answer your questions and discuss how Pennsylvania law may apply to your situation.
Divorce Approaches in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is one of several states that allows both fault and no-fault divorces. There are two types of no-fault divorce: mutual consent and divorce after one year of separation.
Mutual consent divorce: 3301(c). If the spouses both agree to divorce, they can each file an affidavit saying that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” They may then finalize their divorce after a 90-day waiting period.
If both spouses want to divorce, the 90-day mutual consent option is quicker and simpler than the other types of divorce available in Pennsylvania.
In specific cases involving one spouse who has been convicted of committing a personal injury crime against the other spouse, the court will presume consent of the at-fault spouse to divorce. One spouse can also file for divorce in Pennsylvania if the other spouse is institutionalized for a mental disorder. The waiting period is 18 months after the date of institutionalization. There must also be no plan for discharge within another 18 months.
Divorce after separation: 3301(d). Only one party needs to file a divorce “complaint” in Pennsylvania if the spouses have been living apart for at least one year. The Pennsylvania General Assembly amended the previous requirement in 2016, changing the two-year separation rule to just one year. As long as the spouse who is “served” the divorce papers does not deny that the spouses have been living apart for at least one year or that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the divorce may proceed even though only one party filed for divorce.
Do both parties have to sign to get a divorce in PA? Not necessarily. However, individuals may need to take a different approach to divorce if their spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers and fights their claims. This option is a fault divorce.
How to Divorce in PA if One Spouse Won’t Sign Papers
In a fault divorce, the spouse who filed must show one of six grounds for divorce. In other words, the other spouse must have done one of the following:
- Maliciously deserted the other spouse for a year or more without a reasonable cause.
- Committed adultery.
- Endangered the life or health of the other spouse with “cruel and barbarous treatment.”
- Knowingly married before ending a previous marriage, called bigamy.
- Been convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment for two or more years.
- Made the other spouse’s situation “intolerable and burdensome.”
A fault divorce is typically more complicated than the no-fault approaches to divorce. In fact, it may seem like an overwhelming battle to prove one of these grounds and prevail in your case. However, with the help of an experienced law firm, it is possible to navigate a fault divorce efficiently and successfully.
If you’re considering divorce, we can give you the information you need to make the best decisions moving forward. We welcome you to call Petrelli Previtera Schimmel today to schedule a consultation.