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Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania

Posted By Cairns Law Offices || 24-Oct-2016

Are you contemplating divorce? If you decide to take the plunge, in your divorce papers you will need to indicate on what "ground" you are divorcing. In other words, you must note the reason why you're filing for a divorce. In Pennsylvania, spouses can file for divorce on both fault and no-fault grounds.

If a spouse wants to file a "fault" divorce, he or she is essentially accusing the other spouse of engaging in some sort of misconduct, for example, they are saying that their spouse committed adultery, or they walked out on the marriage for at least a year, or they committed domestic violence.

A spouse can file for a fault divorce on the following grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Bigamy
  • Abandoning a spouse for a year or longer
  • Spousal abuse, or another form of cruelty
  • Convicted of a crime and sent to prison for at least two years
  • Humiliation to such an extent, it makes marriage intolerable

Does misconduct impact property division?

This is a good question! Generally, judges do not consider misconduct, such as committing a crime, or family violence, or cheating when dividing property, however, a judge is entitled to consider a spouse's misconduct when they are deciding whether or not to award spousal support or alimony.

No-Fault Divorce: a Better Way

A fault-based divorce can lead to costly litigation and a protracted divorce. Often, fault-based divorces are more stressful on all involved and they can literally drain the marital estate. If you want to avoid a full-blown court battle, you may want to consider the benefits of having a no-fault divorce instead, even if your spouse made his or her share of mistakes.

When you file a no-fault divorce, you are not blaming your spouse, at least not "on the record." You're not airing your dirty laundry; you are filing your divorce on the ground of "irretrievable breakdown," which means your marriage is broken beyond repair, period.

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of no-fault divorce. A mutual consent no-fault divorce and irretrievable breakdown without mutual consent. The first is self-explanatory and by far, the most ideal of the two options.

With a mutual consent no-fault divorce, you and your spouse agree that your marriage is irretrievably broken, and you both agree to get divorced. In a mutual consent divorce, you can obtain be divorce as soon as 90 days after the divorce action is filed.

No-Fault Divorce Without Mutual Consent

If you want to end your marriage but your spouse refuses to consent to the divorce, you could file a no-fault divorce, however, you would have to file an affidavit with the court stating that you have lived separate and apart from your spouse for at least two years before the court could grant you a divorce.

If your spouse is willing to agree to a divorce, we recommend filing a no-fault, mutual consent divorce. This way, you can achieve the most cost-effective divorce possible and you can begin the next chapter of your life as a divorced person within a few months of filing the divorce papers.

Learn all about our affordable, no-fault divorces by contacting our firm directly!