Some couples – or at least one of the spouses in the couple – simply fall out of love and cannot find ways to keep the marriage going that serves each other’s needs. When asked specifically why they want to get a divorce, the response might be everything and nothing at the same time. But divorce is, of course, a legal action that can only be approved and granted by a state court judge based on legal filings made by at least one of the spouses. Which raises the question of whether the person seeking the divorce has to present that judge with a reason for the divorce. In Pennsylvania, the answer to that question depends on what type of divorce is being sought and how long the person seeking the divorce is willing to wait.
Obtaining a “Fault” Divorce in Pennsylvania
For most of the history of the law of marriage, there have been requirements of proving reasons that will legally justify a divorce, and it has only been in recent decades that divorces have been granted without the parties needing to show fault. Pennsylvania, which does grant no-fault divorces as discussed below, does still continue to grant fault-based divorces as well, which require one spouse to prove that the other spouse was at fault, justifying the divorce, such as adultery or abandonment.
The upside of a fault-based divorce is that it can be granted immediately without a waiting period, but the downsides are that: 1) there must be some legally-recognized fault justifying the divorce; and 2) that fault will have to proven in a public court of law, which can bring painful and private issues into the public arena.
No-Fault Divorces in Pennsylvania: Worth the Wait?
Again, no-fault divorces are available in Pennsylvania, and a spouse simply needs to tell the court that there are irreconcilable differences between the spouses without having to tell the court anything further about the circumstances of the relationship.
The downside for a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania, however, is that the court does impose a one-year waiting period after filing for divorce before it will be granted (although note that this was only recently shortened from a two-year waiting period). Thus, a spouse seeking a divorce is encouraged to reach out to a PA family law attorney as soon as possible to move this process along.
Mutual Consent Divorce: A Simpler Option
For couples that want to avoid both the one-year waiting period and having to show fault in court, they can obtain a mutual consent divorce more quickly. To do so, however, they will need to work out a settlement agreement between one another regarding all matters of property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support which will be submitted to the judge for approval. The spouses – if they have not already reached an agreement on these issues – can work with their attorneys to reach such an agreement in order to obtain a mutual consent divorce.
Get Help With Your PA Divorce Matter Today
At The Martin Law Firm, P.C., our family law team works with men and women across Southeastern Pennsylvania in divorce matters, and we are committed to serving your needs in a compassionate and efficient manner. Call us today for a no-hassle consultation regarding any questions you have about divorce in Pennsylvania.