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What are the grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania?

Filing for divorce is a major decision in a person’s life and there are a lot of factors to consider before doing so. Do you have the money to hire an attorney? How will you take care of the children? Will you get to stay in your home? On what grounds should you file for divorce?

As for the last factor, choosing grounds for divorce is actually fairly easy. While fault-based divorce is still an option in Pennsylvania, it is rarely used anymore. No-Fault divorces are much more common as you do not have to prove that your spouse was to blame for the deterioration of your marriage, nor do you have to worry about your spouse saying the divorce is your fault. The vast majority of Pennsylvania divorces are filed on no-fault grounds.

No-Fault Divorce

With a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse do not have to prove anyone was specifically at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. You can claim the following reasons:

  • Irretrievable breakdown
  • Mutual consent
  • Institutionalization

With mutual consent, you and your spouse provide an affidavit consenting to the divorce. After the divorce filing, you wait 90 days before the judge will grant the divorce, and you may not have to appear in court.

However, no-fault divorce is not the same as uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is when there are no disagreements between the two spouses in any of the relevant divorce issues (i.e. property distribution, alimony, etc.). . In a no-fault divorce, while there may not be any dispute over who was to blame for the breakdown of the marriage, there may still be disagreements to resolve related to property division, child custody and support, and more.

Fault-Based Divorce

As aforementioned, fault-based divorce is rarely, if ever, filed in Pennsylvania these days. It is still technically an option under Pennsylvania law. Reasons for fault-based divorce include:

  • Abandonment without reason for over one year
  • Adultery
  • Cruel treatment that puts your life and health at risk, such as domestic violence
  • Bigamy
  • Imprisonment for two or more years
  • Your spouse made your life intolerable

Even if you do believe that your spouse was at fault for any of the reasons above, you may still prefer to file a no-fault divorce and avoid the added layers of stress and conflict that come with pursuing a fault-based divorce. Further, at-fault divorces tend to be more expensive because they take longer, and you have to provide evidence to the judge to back up your claims. Finally, proving any of the fault grounds rarely give you any advantage in the overall divorce process, so why bother?

The state of Pennsylvania gives you several divorce options to pursue, so choose the one that best fits your situation. Before you begin, knowing about the divorce process may cause less stress and keep you from spending a lot of time and money. Contact us at OWM Law to review those options.

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