If you are considering divorce, you may have several options depending on your unique circumstances. Below is a breakdown of the types of divorce in PA and how they differ. For more information on moving forward, we welcome you to call our firm at (215) 523-6900. An attorney can answer your questions and discuss how the law may apply to your situation.
The Four Types of Divorce in PA
Divorcing Pennsylvania couples can generally take one of four approaches:
- Mutual consent divorce
- No-fault divorce after one year of separation
- Fault divorce
- Divorce following one spouse’s institutionalization
Each of these types of divorce has different requirements and timeline.
Mutual Consent Divorce in PA
In a mutual consent divorce, both spouses file an affidavit – meaning a sworn, signed statement – that they agree to dissolving their marriage. While the divorce is “uncontested” in this scenario, both parties still claim in the initial filing that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that they both agree to the divorce. Pennsylvania law imposes a 90-day waiting period after filing to finalize the divorce agreement.
No-Fault Divorce After Living Apart for One Year
Couples can also file for a no-fault divorce after living apart for one year. After that time, only one spouse needs to file an affidavit declaring the marriage irreparable. In 2016, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania signed a new state law that reduced the waiting period for no-fault divorce from two years to one. The shorter time frame not only eases the burden on the divorcing couple, but also on their children.
Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania
Filing a fault divorce is much more complex than filing a no-fault divorce. One spouse must have committed an act that falls under one of Pennsylvania’s six grounds for a fault divorce:
- Cruel and barbarous treatment
However, moving forward with a fault divorce requires more action than simply accusing one spouse of committing any of the above misconduct. The other spouse must also submit strong evidence, which a court official will review in a separate proceeding. The court official will then indicate to the judge whether or not the grounds for a fault divorce are valid and, in fact, ruined the marriage. If they are valid, the fault divorce may move forward. If not, the spouse can appeal the decision or choose another type of divorce.
Divorce Following Institutionalization
A spouse can file for divorce in PA without a court hearing 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.
The Divorce Process in Pennsylvania
While there are several types of divorce in PA, each follows an overarching process. Divorcing spouses must follow the same steps to end a marriage in Pennsylvania. These steps include:
- Filing of a divorce complaint
- Gathering of records
- Negotiation and hearings
- Resolution and judgment
A Pennsylvania divorce begins with filing a form called a “complaint.” One copy of the form will be filed with the court. The other must be “served” to the spouse within 30 days.
Once the legal paperwork is filed, the spouses will gather important records relating to their assets and debts. The spouses must then reach an agreement about the division of property, child custody, and financial support. Finally, the court files a divorce decree to officially dissolve the marriage.
Getting Experienced Help
If you’re thinking about divorce, we can give you the information you need to make the best decisions moving forward. We welcome you to call Petrelli Previtera today to schedule a consultation.