On October 4, 2016 Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 380 and effectively changed the practice of divorce and family law moving forward. In relevant part, the bill changes the required separation period parties must wait to unilaterally file to move no-fault yet contested divorce matters ahead from two years to one. The change is a hot topic that the family law community and bar associations have been discussing for some time and signals a large step forward. The change officially goes into effect on December 4, 2016.
The change to a one year separation period brings Pennsylvania closer to its neighboring states and is expected to help clear up and clean out large divorce dockets. It also allows parties to reach resolution sooner rather than languishing in limbo at the hands of a spiteful ex-spouse. Divorcing partners can more appropriately value assets contemporaneously, prevent dissipation by the other party and move on as single adults sooner.
To be noted, the bill is not met with all positive praise. There is a fear that this could hurt the dependent spouse (the one in a less stable financial position) by providing for shorter periods of spousal support or time to get back on ones feet. Only time will tell how this new change really will impact the family law world.
If you are going through a divorce and have questions about how House Bill 380 and the new separation period could impact you, contact Previtera & Schimmel today. Our attorneys can answer your questions and map out the best strategy to meet your goals.