AREAS OF PRACTICE
DIVORCE AND SEPARATION
A divorce is the termination of a marriage between spouses. In Pennsylvania, a divorce can be filed as a "fault" based divorce, or a "no fault" divorce. The filing party has the obligation of proving there are grounds sufficient to grant the divorce, unless both parties are in agreement with the divorce. If both parties are in agreement with the dissolution of marriage, the divorce can be granted after a period of ninety days have elapsed following the service of the Divorce Complaint on the non-filing party. The court will likely require all economic issues be resolved prior to the entry of the Divorce Decree, absent extenuating circumstances. If both parties are not in agreement with the divorce, the filing party will be required to wait until the parties have been living separate and apart for a period of at least two years, prior to moving forward with the divorce process. Once the two year separation occurs, a divorce may be granted if the Court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken, (or fault grounds have been established) and that all of the economic issues have been resolved.
In order to obtain a "fault based" divorce, the person raising the allegation must prove that he or she is the "innocent and injured" spouse and that the misconduct of the other spouse has caused the breakdown of the marriage. Reasons for a fault-based divorce in Pennsylvania include the following:
1. Willful and malicious desertion and absence from the marital home without a reasonable cause for a period of one or more years,
No fault divorce may be granted where it is alleged the marriage is irretrievably broken and a period of ninety days have elapsed from the date of the commencement of an action and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing his or her consent to the divorce. A no fault divorce must allege the marriage is irretrievably broken. In the alternative, the court may enter a divorce decree if after a notice and hearing, the court has determined the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and the marriage is irretrievably broken.