It is important to work with an experienced family law attorney if you are thinking about filing for or have been served with a divorce. In Pennsylvania, the legal grounds for divorce can be broken up into two categories: fault and no-fault. All valid divorces must fall under one of these two categories. An attorney will help you decide what grounds for divorce is right for you.
While fault-based divorce is valid in Pennsylvania, it is used much more rarely than no-fault divorce. Because the divorce is fault-based that implies that there is blame in why the marriage failed. The valid grounds for fault based divorce in Pennsylvania include cruelty such as abuse and domestic violence which endangers the health or life of the abused spouse. Other grounds for fault-based divorce include abandonment for one year or more without good reason, adultery, bigamy, conviction of a crime, and imprisonment for greater than two years.
In a fault-based divorce, the selected grounds for divorce must be proven. Proving these occurrences can result in revealing secrets or events that one would not want in the public eye. Additionally, because it must be proven in court, fault based divorce is often drawn out and involves more proceedings.
No-fault divorce has become the more common form of divorce in Pennsylvania and nationwide. As the name implies, in no-fault divorce, no fault or blame is assigned. Because no-fault is assigned, the grounds for divorce do not need to be proven in court. This results in a much speedier and less costly process. There are two types of no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania: mutual consent and irretrievable breakdown without mutual consent.
A mutual consent no-fault divorce can be granted when the spouses mutually agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the 90 day waiting period from the filing date has passed, and both parties have filed an affidavit stating the divorce is mutual.
An irretrievable breakdown without fault can be used when only one party consents to divorce. The spouses must have been separated for 2 or more years and a divorce complaint alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken must be filed. The other spouse then has 40 days to answer. The spouse can deny the marriage is irretrievably broken or can deny that 2 years of separation has occurred. Divorces where one party does not consent can be more complex and often take more time.
About the Author
Paul Maselli is an attorney at Maselli Warren PC. He represents clients in matters related to family law and divorce.