The great majority of Pennsylvania divorces are “no fault” divorces, which means the grounds are irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Fault grounds, including adultery, are often difficult to prove in court and are more costly to litigate. The process of gathering and submitting proof of fault can often be embarrassing and painful for everyone — especially for the children. Proving fault grounds for divorce used to be the only way you could get divorced in Pennsylvania. Now Pennsylvania allows couples to get divorced just because they want to, without giving a reason other than they no longer get along. Under no fault divorce, it doesn’t matter why you want to get divorced and the court can still decide other issues such as property division and alimony.
What is a no-fault divorce?
A no-fault divorce is much easier for the parties to get than a “fault divorce.” A court grants a no-fault divorce when both parties agree the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
There are 2 kinds of no-fault divorce:
1. One person files for the divorce and once 90 days has passed each party may file an Affidavit of Consent to divorce. You may also work out any property issues you have in a Marriage Settlement or Post-Nuptial Agreement. The court rules require you to file a series of legal documents to complete the divorce. This is the fastest way to divorce in Pennsylvania, but it requires the cooperation of both parties.
2. No fault divorce is also available if one of the spouses will not consent to the divorce but the parties have been living separate and apart (even if living in the same residence) for at least 1 year and the marriage is irretrievably broken. You can file for the divorce at any time, even before the 1 year waiting period, but you cannot begin to get the divorce until the 1 year period is over. Also, you may not be able to obtain a divorce if there are outstanding issues related to property division. You usually must resolve all issues resolving property division and alimony before a divorce will be granted by the court.
Keep in mind that other issues are often involved in a divorce, such as child support and child custody and may still need to be resolved, either by agreement of the parties or by order of the court.
No-Fault Divorce Is Not An Uncontested Divorce
Seeking a no fault divorce saves the ordeal and costs associated with proving one party’s wrongful behavior or “fault” for the breakup of the marriage. However, no-fault divorce should not be confused with uncontested divorce. A no-fault divorce can still involve issues regarding property division or alimony which the parties cannot agree upon, We encourage you to contact our experienced lawyers to advise you how best to protect your rights and interests. Both parties’ agreement to get a divorce is not enough to achieve a settlement. The desire to “get it over with” is common, but the reality is that financial and other marital issues must be resolved before our courts will grant a divorce. The real challenges are in resolving major marital issues such as:
- Property division, covering all marital assets and debts, including the marital residence, pension or retirement plans, etc.;
- Alimony/spousal support, if sought by either party;
- Child custody and visitation, as well as child support (if any minor children are involved).
Most Pennsylvania divorces are “no-fault” divorces, meaning the grounds are irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, personal indignities or other fault-based grounds that must be proven. Fault grounds can be difficult to prove in court and are more costly to litigate. More importantly, the process of gathering and submitting proof can often be embarrassing and painful for everyone — especially for any children of the parties. Proving fault grounds for divorce used to be the only way you could get divorced in Pennsylvania. Now Pennsylvania allows couples to get divorced just because they want to, without giving a reason other than they no longer want to be married. Under no fault divorce, it doesn’t matter why you want to get divorced.
In cases were a no-fault uncontested divorce is appropriate your divorce can often be completed in about 90 days for a flat fee or in as little as 30 days if you have already been separated for over 1 year. Click here for information about Uncontested Divorces.