Times are changing – literally – as it pertains to the speed at which Pennsylvania divorces will soon be allowed. Throughout my 20+ years of practicing law in Pennsylvania, the law has changed on many occasions, most often for the better. Pennsylvania divorce law came of age in 1980 when the legislature established a way through which couples could divorce without a spouse having to prove fault. Divorces now can be obtained through the consent of the parties stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken based upon irreconcilable differences. When both parties are agreeable and can work through the economic issues, a divorce can be obtained 90 days after a party is served with a Divorce Complaint. As a result of the 1980 changes, however, if one party does not agree that the marriage was irretrievably broken, the other party cannot force them to agree to the divorce after the 90 day waiting period. Instead, the parties would have to wait three years from the date of separation in order to move the matter forward. In 1988, this three year period was reduced to two years, where it has remained ever since.
For a party who is looking to move on with his or her life, this two year waiting period can seem like a lifetime. House Bill 380 was recently introduced proposing that the two year waiting period be reduced to one year. The Bill passed a full house vote, 191 to 6, and then went on to the Senate. As of April 5, 2016, the Bill was passed and the law is to take effect 60 days later. This law will not be retroactive to cases filed before the date the law takes effect.
In addition to this new law, which will lessen the time for no fault divorces in Pennsylvania, I would note that there are still available fault grounds for divorce. I can say that in over two decades of practicing law, however, it is exceptionally rare to receive a divorce decree based on fault grounds.
It is extremely important to sit down with your attorney to determine what path is best for you and your family, so as to weight the pros and cons of all options available to you. For more information, call 610-892-3877