The answer is that it depends. If both parties agree to the divorce, they can proceed under Section 3301(c) of the Divorce Code, which allows the court to grant a divorce by mutual consent of the parties. Even in cases with mutual consent, the law requires a 90 day waiting period before the parties may request that the court to issue a divorce decree.
When one of the parties is unwilling to consent to a divorce, the party seeking the divorce can proceed under Section 3301(d) of the Divorce Code. Section 3301(d) allows the court to grant a divorce in cases where the parties have been separated for two years. Unlike the waiting period in cases involving mutual consent which always begins after the divorce process is initiated, the two year waiting period under Section 3301(d) starts from the date in which the parties separated, which almost always precedes the filing of a divorce complaint.
The idea behind the waiting period is to have a “cool down” period before a party can force a divorce. However, critics of the waiting period under Section 3301(d) believe that the two-year delay only serves to fuel spouses’ refusal to resolve their divorce issues. In November 2015, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed House Bill 380, which would lower the waiting period under Section 3301 (d) to one year. Earlier this week the HB380 was before the State Senate, which also voted to pass the bill. On September 27, 2016, the bill was signed by the legislature and sent to Governor Wolf, who is also expected to sign. The new waiting period is to take effect 60 days after the bill is signed by the governor, however it would only apply to cases filed after the effective date of the law.
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