Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide

Pennsylvania No Fault Divorce

According to PA no fault divorce laws, one can file for divorce on the basis of “no fault grounds” where the spouse filing for divorce (which is called the complaint), need not prove in the court of law that the other spouse has committed a “wrongdoing” or has indulged in any “fault”. Thus, the blame-game does not exist here. The other grounds on which one can get divorce in Pennsylvania are the “fault grounds” where the factors such as: desertion, abandonment, adultery, cruelty etc are considered.

Residential requirements in Pennsylvania no fault divorce

In order to start the process of divorce in the state of Pennsylvania, at least one spouse must have been the resident of that state for a period of 6 months prior to filing of the divorce petition.

Waiting period in Pennsylvania no fault divorce

After filing for a “complaint” for divorce petition, if the defendant spouse is from the same state, then the courts would allow a waiting period of 30 days. If the other spouse is in any other part of the country, then the waiting period is 2 months and 90 days if he/she lives outside the country. This waiting period gives an opportunity for the spouses to “patch-up” or reconcile. If the defendant does not respond to servings of the notice, then the court would consider him/her having defaulted and the divorce decree would be signed by the judge in his/her absence.

If the divorce has been filed mutually and there are no disputes regarding property division or custody then one need not even appear in the court. If the divorce is a “contested one”, then the procedure may take longer and also involve more amount of money.

Mutual contest Pennsylvania no fault divorce

“Mutual consent” divorce can be obtained if the waiting period of 90 days are over, and both the spouses have submitted assigned affidavit declaring that they mutually consent to divorce each other. A marriage is considered “irretrievably broken”, if both the parties have been living separately for the last two years of filing the divorce. Then the courts would declare that the marriage has been dissolved because it has been “irretrievably broken down”.

Property division in Pennsylvania no fault divorce

Pennsylvania is an “equitable property distribution” state where the property and debts of the spouses are equitably and fairly divided among them. Usually, spouses filing no fault divorce try to settle the matter of property division among themselves “outside the court”, as that procedure takes lesser time and is more economical. If they follow that procedure, then all the details regarding property division would be mentioned in the “marital settlement agreement” which they need to provide to the court for approval. In case the disputes regarding property division persist, then courts would ensure that the financially weaker gets the justifiable share of the marital property which was acquired during the course of the marriage. Separate property or the property which was acquired before the marriage by a spouse or after the petition for divorce was filed, is not touched unless the financial needs of the other spouse demand to do so.

Child custody in PA no fault divorce

The matter of child custody and visitations are also settled by the spouses “outside the court” to avoid unnecessary litigation. Generally, courts recommend custody mediation to the spouses which help them to draft a sound parenting plan. In case of dispute with a parent alleging that the presence of the other parent can be detrimental to the child, then child custody issue becomes more complicated. Once, the case goes for trial it would take a lot of time and money.

Decision regarding the matter of choosing the grounds on which divorce can be filed lies with the plaintiff. It is always advisable to file on “no fault grounds”, if one is sure of having an edge over the other partner regarding child custody or property division. Many people prefer no fault grounds and uncontested divorces, even if there is substantial “wrongdoing” so as to avoid the messy court battles and also save money.

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