Filing No Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania

By Bernadette A. Safrath

Courts used to require a spouse to prove fault, or reasons for the failure of the marriage, such as abandonment or adultery, before a divorce action could be filed or granted. Pennsylvania, like many states, has changed this limitation and added the availability of no-fault grounds for divorce. Thus, a spouse can file for divorce in Pennsylvania so long as she has been a resident of the state for at least six months.

Courts used to require a spouse to prove fault, or reasons for the failure of the marriage, such as abandonment or adultery, before a divorce action could be filed or granted. Pennsylvania, like many states, has changed this limitation and added the availability of no-fault grounds for divorce. Thus, a spouse can file for divorce in Pennsylvania so long as she has been a resident of the state for at least six months.

Filing Requirements

The filing spouse must file a Complaint for Divorce with Pennsylvania's Court of Common Pleas located in her county of residence. The county clerk manages any paperwork that must be filed, including financial statements, alimony requests and custody papers. The clerk will notify the spouses or their attorneys of any missing papers and of any hearings or other court appearances required.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Irretrievable Breakdown

"Irretrievable breakdown" is one ground for no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania. Irretrievable breakdown does not require either spouse to have committed misconduct leading to the end of the marriage. Instead, a spouse can file for divorce based on this ground if the marriage has broken down with no chance of reconciliation and the spouses have "lived separate and apart" for at least two years prior to filing.

Mutual Consent

If spouses have not lived apart for more than two years, they can file for divorce based on "mutual consent." With this ground, spouses must have lived apart for at least 90 days. The spouses must agree the marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown and file the divorce papers jointly.

Equitable Distribution

Before issuing a divorce decree, a Pennsylvania court must divide the marital property between the spouses. Pennsylvania is an "equitable distribution" state, which means that spouses each receive a fair percentage of the assets. When deciding what each spouse is entitled to, the court will consider each spouse's age, length of the marriage, value of each spouse's assets, each spouse's role in the marriage (wage earner vs. homemaker), and whether either spouse attempted to destroy, hide or improperly sell any marital asset in contemplation of the divorce.

Waiting Period

When a divorce is amicable and spouses agree to a property settlement, alimony issues and custody, a divorce can be issued without a trial. However, Pennsylvania law requires a waiting period, called the "cooling-off" period. This means that a court must wait 90 days from the date the complaint was filed before signing the final divorce decree.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Divorce Proceedings in Kansas

References

Related articles

Types of Divorce in South Dakota

When spouses decide to end their marriage, one or both of them must file for divorce. To be eligible to file for divorce in South Dakota, the filing spouse, called the Plaintiff, must be a resident of the state. The divorce petition must be filed in the Plaintiff's county of residence, unless the Defendant, the other spouse, also resides in South Dakota, in which case the petition may be filed in the Defendant's county of residence.

Divorce and Separation in Texas

While some states allow parties to request some sort of court-ordered legal separation as a first step toward divorce, Texas does not. However, spouses are allowed to draft contracts to divide property and voluntarily live separately, which may accomplish the same result as a legal separation. If the marriage does not repair itself, a petition for divorce can be filed, provided the spouses meet the residency requirements.

Non-Contested Divorce in Oklahoma

Noncontested or uncontested divorce is the process by which spouses file for divorce together or one spouse files and the other spouse elects not to protest. In Oklahoma, the spouse or spouses must file a petition for divorce in the district court located in their county of residence. Because neither spouse is contesting, a court can immediately move on to dividing the marital property and possibly awarding alimony.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to File for Divorce in Washington, DC

Spouses in Washington, D.C. can file for divorce if they follow the procedures set forth in Washington, D.C.'s Official ...

Do I Have to File an Answer to a Complaint in a Divorce in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, either spouse can file for divorce by completing a divorce complaint. The divorce complaint will state ...

Divorce In PA

When a marriage fails in Pennsylvania, spouses can file for divorce. The state's domestic relations law, set forth in ...

Divorce Rules for Tennessee

Divorce laws are in place in each state to ensure you get what you are entitled to when you end your marriage. In ...

Browse by category