Divorce is the process of legally dissolving a marriage. The process of getting divorce is laid out in the state statute and the local county rules. There are several paths a divorce can follow leading to the entry of a final divorce decree, and which path you must pursue depends on the facts of your case. The time and expense associated with getting divorced is difficult to determine without discussing the facts of your case with an attorney, but a divorce could be concluded in as little four months or could take several years.
Who is at Fault?
In Pennsylvania, you can obtain a no-fault divorce.
Previously, divorces required the establishment of fault-based grounds. Fault based divorces were awarded to the “innocent and injured spouse” when the other spouse willfully deserted the marriage for a period greater than one year, committed adultery, endangered the life or health of the other spouse, entered into a bigamous marriage, was sentenced to prison for two or more years, or “offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.”
Now, Pennsylvania divorces can be no-fault. This does not mean that you cannot file for a fault-based divorce. There is just usually no economic benefit to doing so. For this reason, most divorces are now processed as a no-fault divorce.
Pennsylvania No-Fault Divorces
Most divorces are no-fault divorces in Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania law, a no-fault divorce can be processed as early as ninety (90) days after the filing and service of a Complaint in Divorce. With a no-fault divorce, it does not matter if a spouse considers the other spouse to be at fault for the divorce. For instance, having an affair does not impact your legal rights to seek a no-fault divorce.
The Court will grant a no-fault divorce if the marriage is irretrievably broken and either you and your spouse have consented to the divorce, or if you have been separated for at least a year. If the marriage is irretrievably broken, but your spouse will not consent to the divorce, you do not need to wait a year before starting the divorce process, but the process cannot be completed until you have been separated for at least a year. If there is property to divide, you must file a Property Settlement Agreement (also called a Marital Settlement Agreement, or Postnuptial Agreement) to tell the Court how to divide the property.