You can obtain a divorce in Pennsylvania if one of the spouses have lived in PA for six months or longer. A simple divorce process typically takes 3-4 months due to the 90 day waiting period for the court to grant the decree. PA has both no-fault and fault grounds for divorce. Most divorces proceed on no-fault basis where proving a fault is not required while in fault divorces fault must be proved.
Pennsylvania State has divorce rate of 3.0% per 1,000 of the total population. It is relatively low and is quite below the median point which makes it 6th lowest in the country.
A court may grant annulment in this state under critical circumstances. A legal annulment may be granted by the court whereas a religious annulment is issued in churches. Annulment may not be liked because of the requirements which are difficult to meet.
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Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has both no-fault and fault based grounds for divorce:
No-Fault Divorce in PA
No-fault divorce grounds in Pennsylvania are:
Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage
Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage stands for a marital relationship’s breakdown beyond any prospect of reconciliation. You and your spouse can file for divorce, if so is the case, on this divorce ground in Pennsylvania.
If you and your spouse broke the marital relationship with mutual consent and ninety days have elapsed , both you and your estranged spouse have the right to claim divorce.
Fault Divorce in PA
Following are the fault divorce grounds in Pennsylvania:
Wilful & Malicious Desertion
Desertion stands for a spouse’s wilful absence for a period of one year or more. In case a spouse is missing for the same duration, the petitioner can file for divorce on the desertion divorce ground in Pennsylvania.
Sexual relations with an illicit lover is a fault divorce ground in PA. It is the most common ground for divorce in the state.
Marrying a person while you already have a legal spouse is bigamy. This divorce ground in Pennsylvania is constituted for the affected spouse to claim a divorce from the accountable one.
Cruel and Barbarous Treatment
Barbarous and cruel treatment by your spouse provides you with a lawful ground for divorce. It is a fault divorce ground in Pennsylvania.
Imprisonment like in most of the states of the US, is also a valid divorce ground in Pennsylvania. If a person has committed a crime and is imprisoned and his or her spouse does not want to live with him or her, s/he can file for divorce.
Personal Indignities Rendering Life Burdensome
According to an estimate, around ten percent of the husbands consider their marriage life as burdensome within a short span of getting married. And due to this perception, the marriage looses its charm. If both or one of the spouses feels that marriage life is burdensome and there is no hope of reconciliation, they can bail out on this divorce ground.
Contact a professional divorce attorney or divorce lawyer for detailed information regarding divorce grounds in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Divorce Laws
PA has following divorce laws:
As mentioned in Pennsylvania divorce laws, either spouse must be a resident of the state of Pennsylvania for at least six months prior to filing. A proceeding for divorce may be brought in the county:
- Where the defendant resides
- If the defendant resides outside of this Commonwealth, where the plaintiff resides
- Of matrimonial domicile, if the plaintiff has continuously resided in the county
- Prior to six months after the date of final separation and with agreement of the defendant, where the plaintiff resides or, if neither party continues to reside in the county of matrimonial domicile, where either party resides
- After six months of the date of final separation, where either party resides.
Documents Required for Filing Divorce
According to PA divorce laws, following are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a divorce:
- Complaint for Divorce
- Decree of Divorce
A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are:
- Affidavit of Verification
- Domestic Relations Income and Expense Statement
- Notice to File Social Security Numbers
- Marital Settlement Agreement
- Parricide to Transmit Record
Distribution of Property
Under Pennsylvania divorce laws, the divorce court, upon request of either party, equitably divides the property in a fair way. The court also considers all relevant factors.
Change of Name or Restoration of Name
A female spouse, who desires the restoration of her maiden or married name, must set out the name she desires to be restored to her in petition for dissolution as part of the relief sought.
As per Pennsylvania divorce laws, the divorce court may order the parties to attend an orientation session to explain the mediation process.
The Supreme Court shall develop model guidelines for implementation of this section and shall consult with experts on mediation and domestic violence in this Commonwealth in the development thereof.
Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other, according to Pennsylvania divorce laws. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis, the court may allow alimony, as it deems reasonable, to either spouse only if the court finds that there is no other alternative than alimony.
The court in making an order for custody, the court considers whom the custody is more likely to be awarded. In addition, the Pennsylvania divorce court considers each parent’s present and past cruel or offensive conduct which may include abusive conduct, as defined under the Protection from Abuse Act.
For the Child support, there are guidelines based upon the reasonable needs of the child seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support. In this regard the court shall place primary emphasis on the net incomes and earning capacities of the parties. The guideline developed in this way is reviewed at least once every four years.
Contact a professional divorce attorney or divorce lawyer for comprehensive divorce laws information in your state.
Pennsylvania Annulment Laws
If you have knowingly or in ignorance entered into a marital contract which is illegal or void, you file for annulment instead of divorce. The annulment rate in all the states is relatively low because the grounds for annulment are hard to prove. Pennsylvania annulment laws, like all the other states, have also tailored grounds for annulment, which are:
Bigamy or Existence of a Prior Marriage
Existence of a prior marriage is a legal annulment ground. According to Pennsylvania annulment laws, you can’t enter into another marriage while still being married to someone else. You can marry only one person at a time and existence of a prior marriage will make your new marriage void and thus it can be annulled.
According to Pennsylvania annulment laws, incest is a valid annulment ground. Therefore marriages between father-daughter, mother-son, uncle-niece, and aunt-nephew and such like can be annulled under this annulment ground.
You can obtain annulment under Pennsylvania annulment laws, if your spouse has some kind of mental illness.
Under Pennsylvania annulment laws, you can obtain annulment if physical disability in your spouse is hindering you from having a normal married life.
Pennsylvania Divorce Laws -Frequently Asked Questions
- Is there any restriction on both the spouses being represented by the same divorce lawyer?
Yes, Pennsylvania divorce laws are against both spouses being represented by the same divorce lawyer because of the conflicts between the parties.
- Do I have to prove a fault to file a divorce in Pennsylvania?
No, you do not have to prove a fault because only as recently as 80’s no-fault divorce grounds were put into practice in Pennsylvania. So, fault based divorce grounds are ignored for getting a Pennsylvania divorce.
- Should I respond to a divorce complaint?
Yes, you should respond to the Pennsylvania divorce complaint and contact a divorce lawyer immediately. If you do not pay attention to this, then the court will decree a divorce without your consent and legal rights.
- How can I get alimony?
A person who wants spousal support must file a petition in the court when the divorce is in process. The alimony request will not be entertained after the divorce process is over.
- Can custodial spouse be asked to produce receipts of the utilization of support money?
No, Pennsylvania divorce laws say that you have no rights to ask the custodial spouse to provide a proof of the expenses incurred from the money given for child support.
- What can I do if I am facing domestic violence?
If you are the victim of domestic violence you must immediately contact the local police department for help and file a report. They will let you know what to do in this situation. You can also ask the domestic abuse shelter or crisis hotline.
- What is equitable distribution?
According to Pennsylvania divorce laws, equitable distribution is the legal distribution of marital assets and debts among both the spouses at the time of divorce.
- How long should I reside to file for Pennsylvania divorce?
According to PA divorce laws the minimum residency period to file a Pennsylvania divorce is 6 months or more. You cannot file for a divorce otherwise.
- Is it compulsory for both spouses to meet the residency requirements of Pennsylvania?
There is no restriction in Pennsylvania divorce laws that both the spouses must be residents of the state to file a petition for divorce. But either husband or wife must be a resident of Pennsylvania for more than 6 months to file a divorce.
- How long does it take to get divorced in PA?
A Pennsylvania divorce process takes about 4 months after filing a divorce. This is due to the requirement by law of a 90 day waiting period after documents are filed.
- What forms do I need to file a divorce in Pennsylvania?
The forms you require depend on your divorce procedure. The can be found via the Pennsylvania Judicial Center here.
- How much does it cost to file a divorce in PA?
Pennsylvania divorce fees vary from county to county ranging from around $200 (Scranton, Cameron County) to around $400 (Philadelphia County) to file divorce forms.
- What are the conditions for divorce based on separation in Pennsylvania?
There is no such thing as legal separation in Pennsylvania, however to obtain a no-fault PA divorce, based on being separated and without the consent of your spouse, there are two conditions:
* You must have been separated for 2 years or more.
* Both the spouses have to quit all the physical and sexual relations.
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