When couples divorce and neither party is blamed for the end of the marriage, the divorce is filed as a no-fault divorce. However, Pennsylvania spouses choosing to file for divorce after an inciting incident could decide to leave the marriage without sharing fault for the marriage’s demise.
Can I Sue My Spouse for Cheating on Me?
If you have been the victim of infidelity, you may be searching for an answer to the biggest question looming large over your marriage – “what’s next?” When you have questions about the available options for ending your marriage when you are the innocent party, it can feel overwhelming. While they are not as common, fault divorces are available to divorcing couples in Pennsylvania. Bad behavior, abuse, and other inciting incidents are grounds for a fault divorce. The innocent spouse can file for a fault divorce if the union ended because of infidelity or domestic assault.
Filing a Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania
Most states only provide no-fault divorces, so it can be confusing for couples from out of state or those unfamiliar with state law to determine the correct filing choice for their situation. In a fault divorce, the injured party would file for divorce, and the defending party would be served a copy and given a hearing date. Unlike many states, Pennsylvania still allows couples to file fault divorces. Before 1980, this was the only type of divorce available in Pennsylvania, and while the burden of proof is high. If your spouse has exhibited bad behavior and you want to get out of the marriage as soon as possible, a fault divorce could be a smart choice for your situation.
According to 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3301 (a):
(a) Fault. --The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has:
(1) Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years.
(2) Committed adultery.
(3) By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse.
(4) Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting.
(5) Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime.
(6) Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome.
Once a couple has filed for a divorce and charged their spouse with fault, a hearing is scheduled to present evidence of the type of behavior and incidents that would satisfy the requirements of a fault filing. Just because one party feels they are the injured party doesn’t mean their spouse will agree. A fault divorce can be contested or uncontested, and depending on how the defending spouse responds to the filing, the filing spouse will need to prove the case. Divorce can be highly emotional and lead to lasting anger and animosity. Depending on the relationship or the details of your situation, your spouse can choose not to contest your fault claim. For example, if the defending party in your case is imprisoned for a crime, your spouse may not challenge the fault charge in your divorce filing.
The Benefits of an Uncontested Fault Divorce
Just because you’re filing a fault divorce, it doesn’t mean it will automatically be contested. While it is common for the defending party to refuse to accept fault in the divorce, it’s not impossible. If your partner knows they are the reason for the breakdown of your marriage, you may find they are willing to assume responsibility.
Agreeing to a mutually consenting divorce has many benefits for both parties:
- Faster and easier process
- Cheaper overall than alternative divorce options
- Less stressful on all parties
- Easier child custody negotiations
- Greater likelihood your settlement agreement will be obeyed
Many of the choices that must be made when filing for divorce are based on the details of the marriage. Filing for divorce can be challenging for couples without legal representation. Legal terms and filing requirements can be confusing, and incorrect forms and filing errors can slow down the process and leave you waiting months to finalize your divorce.
When a couple chooses to add a fault claim to their divorce, they are seeking vindication for a perceived wrong. Fault divorces allow couples to present their grievances to justify the divorce filing. Even if the judge finds the defendant at fault in the divorce, marital assets will still be divided fairly, so the filing spouse should decide if the fault filing is worth it. Fault marriages are easier to move through the system because there isn’t a waiting period. If you think your spouse will try to slow down the divorce by contesting the details, a fault divorce filing can help move things along. It may also entitle you to spousal support.
Contact Cairns Law Group for more information about an uncontested divorce today at (888) 863-9115, or submit an online contact form.