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PA Divorces Need Shorter Waiting Period

Posted By Cairns Law Offices || 16-Nov-2015

Even the friendlier divorces can be painful and exhausting, and they can affect you physically. From sleepless nights, to anxiety, grief, and everything in between, divorce isn't for the faint at heart. Further adding to the trauma, Pennsylvania divorces take longer than many other states.

Now, the Pennsylvania legislature is faced with the possibility of shortening the time that it takes to divorce when spouses don't agree that a marriage is over. Under the current law, when spouses don't agree to get divorced, they have to wait a mandatory two-year waiting period before the no-fault divorce grounds kick in.

In most counties, the divorce process won't even begin until the two years have passed. Many divorce attorneys agree that this divorce limbo isn't healthy for the children or the spouses' well-being.

If both parties consent, divorce grounds can be established within 90 days. However, if one spouse refuses to consent to the divorce out of anger, jealousy, financial dependence, or just to "punish" the filing party, they'll have to wait the full two-years.

In some cases, when the nonconsenting spouse wants to try and save the marriage, his or her request for reconciliation cold lead to three mandatory marriage counseling sessions, which for some filing parties is akin to "beating a dead horse."

Lawmakers initially intended the two-year waiting period to help people save their marriages. But, realistically when people reconcile, it happens for reasons that have little to do with the court-imposed delay.

Those in unhappy marriages tend to agree that divorce is a last resort, and the two-year waiting period is unnecessary. The spouses who seek divorce have usually been trying to "make it work" for years.

They may have fought, cried, and hoped that things would turn around, but in the end, one of the parties who's already considered their alternatives wants to throw in the towel.

Pennsylvania's two-year waiting period after separation or filing for divorce forces spouses into a divorce limbo for a good three years, which isn't the healthiest place to be. Tensions and hostility can mount while custody and financial agreements aren't finalized, and things such as where the children will attend school can be up in the air.

To make matters worse, spouses will often hire experts at the beginning of the two-year separation to evaluate the marital assets and by the time the waiting period ends, the spouses' assets have to be re-evaluated, which only compounds the expense.

What is House Bill 380?

On Nov. 9, House Bill 380, which would reduce the time for no-fault divorce from two years to one year, was passed and is expected to be introduced to the Senate for a vote. Assuming that it's approved, it'll be sent to the governor for his signature.

At Cairns Law Offices, we believe that this is a great piece of legislation that will provide for efficient divorces, while helping families better cope with the strain of divorce.