If you are thinking about divorce, understanding the legal process can help ease feelings of fear, worry and anxiety. Pennsylvania law allows couples to file either fault or no-fault divorce if one or both partners have lived in the state for at least six months. You must complete paperwork in the county court where you live.
Learn more about your next steps depending on the circumstances of your divorce in Pennsylvania.
Grounds for a fault divorce
If your spouse committed certain actions, you can file for a fault divorce. The misconduct in question can influence the judge’s decision about alimony. You can file for a fault divorce if your spouse received a felony conviction, was also married to someone else, abused you mentally or physically, committed adultery, spent at least 18 months in a mental institution with no chance of release in the next 18 months, or abandoned you for at least 12 months.
Types of no-fault divorce
In the absence of grounds for fault, you must file for a no-fault divorce. When one spouse does not agree to the divorce, the couple must live separately for two years before the court will grant a divorce request.
If you and your spouse agree, you are subject to a 90-day waiting period after filing your petition. After that time passes, both spouses can file their legal consent to a divorce.
The court can enter a judgment for divorce as soon as the couple agrees on issues such as property division and child custody. When they cannot come to a fair agreement, the judge will decide. Contested divorces can take up to a year, while noncontested divorces usually take a few months.
Couples in Pennsylvania who decide to live separately should make careful note of the day one person moves out of the shared home. This date becomes important if the court needs to determine your date of separation for a contested divorce.