Divorce will affect the rest of your life, including your financial position, living situation, retirement, and more. If you have children, it will also greatly impact their lives. That’s why it’s important to understand all your legal options, the protections available to you, and your rights and responsibilities under Pennsylvania law. You will have one chance to have a successful and efficient divorce. An experienced Philadelphia divorce lawyer can help.
Fault and No-Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania
There are two different options to divorce under Pennsylvania law: fault and no-fault divorce. Each comes with unique steps and timeline.
A fault divorce means that one spouse must have committed some type of marital wrongdoing in order for the court to grant the divorce. For a long time, Pennsylvania was exclusively a fault-based divorce state. More recently, the state added a no-fault divorce option. Grounds such as “irreconcilable differences” are now often sufficient enough for divorce to be granted.
Fault Divorce: To pursue a fault-based divorce, you will need to prove that your spouse wronged you by committing one of six grounds for divorce. These include:
- Your spouse cheated on you.
- Your spouse was already married to someone else when you got married.
- Cruel and barbarous treatment.
- Your spouse left you for a year or more without a good reason.
- Having a criminal record. He or she was convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment for two years or longer.
- Making your life intolerable and burdensome.
No-Fault Divorce: To pursue a no-fault divorce, you have two options:
- You will have to prove that you have lived apart for one year and that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” With this route, only one party needs to file a divorce “complaint” in Pennsylvania.
- Mutual Consent. You and your spouse could apply for a mutual consent divorce. You must both agree to the divorce if you take this route. There is then a 90-day waiting period. The court imposes this period in case you change your mind.
Mediation: Divorce mediation is a growing divorce option that focuses on reaching a good-natured agreement on the divorce terms. It falls under Pennsylvania’s no-fault divorce statute. Mediation is a good alternative for Pennsylvania spouses who want to divorce amicably. Upon coming to a decision, your mediator will provide a legally binding agreement. Unless it is a court-ordered mediation, there is no need to involve the courts at all.
If mediation sounds like a potential option for you, Divorce Done Right can recommend mediators who will listen to both sides, ask the hard questions, suggest resolutions, and facilitate discussions. This mediator will ensure your wishes are taken into account and that the final agreement is fair, balanced, and reasonable.
Pennsylvania follows the rules of equitable distribution. No matter which divorce option you choose, you will need to divide your assets equitably, or fairly. Anything you or your spouse purchased during your marriage is considered “marital property,” which you will need to divide. Likewise, any debts you acquired during this time will be divided as well. There are a few exceptions, which your divorce attorney will explain to you.
Schedule a Consultation with a Top Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering divorce or your spouse has served you papers, Divorce Done Right can help. Call (866) 302-9939 to schedule a consultation. When you meet with one of our attorneys for the first time, we will discuss your situation and legal options.