Circumstances surrounding divorce vary widely from couple to couple. Figuring out how to handle property division, child custody, child and spousal support, and alimony can make divorce complex and contentious. If you are considering dissolving your marriage, it is vital to ensure that your interests are protected. There are several different types of divorce in PA. Learning more about them and speaking to one of the best divorce lawyers you can find can help you understand your options and protect your rights.
Filing for Divorce in Pennsylvania
To get divorced in Pennsylvania, you or your spouse must have lived in the Commonwealth for at least six months. A divorce complaint is filed in the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you and your spouse reside. Although it is possible to file for divorce on your own, seeking the counsel of an experienced Pennsylvania divorce lawyer can make the process run more smoothly and safeguard your interests, property, and the welfare of your children.
The most common type of divorce in PA is no-fault divorce by mutual consent. This is a process in which both spouses consent to a divorce, and it can be finalized in as few as 90 days. Even if one spouse does not consent to a no-fault divorce, it can be granted if there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and spouses have lived separately for at least one year before filing for divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses usually work together to reach a settlement agreement that lays-out specifics about property distribution, child custody, child support, and alimony. Requirements for being granted a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania include:
- An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
- Both spouses agree to the divorce
- No unsettled financial issues between the spouses
Even if you and your spouse are on good terms, these types of issues can be tricky. Because Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, rather than community property state, assets and debts are not necessarily just split 50/50. Having an attorney by your side to assist you with the process can help to ensure all issues are properly addressed, and a fair agreement is reached.
Divorce on Fault Grounds
In a fault-based divorce, the spouse who files for divorce must show that the other spouse was responsible for wrongdoing that caused the breakdown of the marriage. People often file for fault divorce when one spouse refuses to agree to divorce. Grounds for fault divorce include:
- Abandonment for at least one year
- Cruel and barbarous treatment, including domestic violence
- Conviction of a crime and incarceration for two or more years
- Indignity or humiliation of the innocent spouse in a manner that makes the marriage intolerable
If a person’s spouse has been institutionalized for a mental illness for 18 months and there is no plan to discharge them for at least 18 more months, the plaintiff may file for and be granted a divorce.
If you are considering filing for divorce in Pennsylvania, a knowledgeable family law attorney can help you determine which type is best for your specific situation.