Do I need fault grounds to obtain a divorce in Pennsylvania?

No, in 1980 Pennsylvania became a no-fault divorce state.

Presently there are three ways of obtaining a divorce in Pennsylvania. The first is the 90-day consensual no-fault divorce. This is the simplest and most economical divorce. A divorce complaint is filed followed by a 90-day waiting period. If both parties agree to the divorce and sign an affidavit that their marriage is irretrievably broken, the Court will divorce the parties without the need of a hearing before the Court.

The second way is through fault. Pennsylvania still retains its traditional grounds of adultery, abandonment, abuse and indignities. To proceed on a fault-based divorce raising indignities, the injured party must establish that he or she is the hurt and injured spouse and the other party rendered such indignities as to make life intolerable.

The third way of obtaining a divorce is to live separate and apart for two years and to establish that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The separation period may commence even if the parties are residing in the same home.

The most common divorces in Pennsylvania are the 90-day consensual divorce or the two-year separation divorce. Fault divorces are uncommon as the expense to the parties of having a hearing is not cost effective since the parties can simply live separate and apart for two years and obtain the divorce.

It is extremely important to consult a domestic relations attorney before filing a divorce. If your spouse will not consent to the divorce and you have no fault grounds, it is unwise to file the divorce complaint as you may subject yourself to a two-year temporary alimony payment while you are waiting for the two-year period to lapse.

Disclaimer: - These opinions represent a generalization based upon Pennsylvania law as of Nov. 1, 2014. You should consult an attorney and discuss your specific circumstances before taking any action.

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