Grounds for divorce
Where to file for divorce
General divorce procedure
Mediation or Counseling
Rights to maiden name
You may file for divorce in Pennsylvania if: at least one of the parties has been a resident of Pennsylvania for at least six months immediately previous to the filing for divorce.
Both parties shall be competent witnesses to prove their respective residence, and proof of actual residence within the State of Pennsylvania for six months shall create a presumption of
domicile within the Commonwealth of PA. (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes - Title 23, Ch.33, § 3304).
No fault divorce: The Court in Pennsylvania may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of
commencement of an action and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce. The court can also grant a divorce if it is
established that the marriage is irretrievably broken and parties lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years.
Fault-based: Pennsylvania courts may grant a divorce to the spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has:
- Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of 1 (one) or more years.
- Committed adultery.
- By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse.
- Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting.
- Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime.
- Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome.
- Was confined in a mental institution due to a mental condition for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of an action.
Please note that if divorce is sought on the grounds of mutual consent or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage the court shall grant a divorce without requiring a hearing on any other grounds.
(Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes - Title 23, Ch.33, § 3301).
What is the difference between fault divorce and no-fault divorce?
A Separation Agreement shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the county wherein either party resides.
A divorce may be granted based on separation agreement provided parties lived separate and apart for at least one year. Grounds for separation are the same as for divorce.
A proceeding for divorce or annulment may be brought in the county:
- where the defendant resides;
- if the defendant resides outside of Pennsylvania, where the plaintiff resides;
- at the county 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; or
- after six months after the date of final separation, where either party resides.
Divorce procedure in Pennsylvania shall be commenced by the filing of a Divorce Complaint in the Office of the Prothonotary of the county where either spouse resides.
There is a waiting period of 90 to 120 days after filing for Pennsylvania Divorce before a divorce will be granted.
Title of Divorce action: Complaint for Divorce.
Pennsylvania is an Equitable Distribution state, meaning that if parties cannot agree on property distribution a judge will divide marital property as he/she sees just.
Upon the request of either party in an action for divorce or annulment, the court shall equitably divide, distribute or assign, the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct in such percentages and in such manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors. The court may consider each marital asset or group of assets independently and apply a different percentage to each marital asset or group of assets.
Factors which are relevant to the equitable division of marital property include the following:
- The length of the marriage;
- Any prior marriage of either party;
- The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties;
- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
- The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits;
- The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker;
- The value of the property set apart to each party;
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective;
- The expense of sale, transfer or liquidation associated with a particular asset, which expense need not be immediate and certain;
- Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.
The court may award, during the pendency of the action or otherwise, to one or both of the parties the right to reside in the marital residence.
The support guidelines set forth the amount of support which a spouse or parent should pay on the basis of both parties’ net monthly incomes and the number of persons being supported.
Mediation calls to help spouses to reach an agreement on child custody and parenting arrangements, marital property distribution, pension division and maintenance.
If the ground for divorce is irretrievable breakdown or the marriage or mutual agreement of the parties Pennsylvania courts shall require up to a maximum of three counseling sessions
within the time period where either of the parties requests it or may require such counseling where the parties have at least one child under 16 years of age.
The wife’s maiden name may be restored by court upon request.