Grounds for Fault Divorce
While “fault” divorces in Pennsylvania are rare due to the availability of “no-fault” divorce, it is still possible, where necessary, to establish grounds for divorce through a hearing to allow a party to move forward in advance of the expiration of the 2-year waiting period associated with no-fault divorce without consent.
There are six fault grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania: Desertion, Adultery, Cruel and Barbarous Treatment, Bigamy, Imprisonment, and Indignities. These grounds are codified as Section 3301(a) of the Divorce Code. The Court may grant a divorce to the innocent spouse whenever it is determined that the other spouse has acted in a manner that rises to one of these six definitions.
In order for the Court to grant a divorce based on Desertion, the other spouse must have “committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for a period of one or more years.” To be divorced on the grounds of adultery, the Court must conclude that the other spouse committed adultery.
If the other spouse has “by cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse,” the Court can grant a divorce based on that treatment. Bigamy requires that the other spouse “knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting.”
The Court can grant a divorce based on imprisonment where the other spouse has “been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime.” Finally, the Court can grant a divorce where the other spouse “offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.”
No-fault divorce is most common, as it does not require a party to prove wrong-doing on the part of the other spouse; however, where necessary, a divorce can be granted if the Court determines, after a hearing, that any of the six fault counts for divorce have been satisfied.
To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys or for further information, call us at LaMonaca Law, at (610) 892-3877