What You Need to Know About Divorce in Pennsylvania
Divorce is rarely, if ever, an easy situation, and the process of getting a divorce can be confusing and overwhelming. The divorce code is large and dense, with many specific provisions and regulations governing divorce proceedings in Pennsylvania. If you are considering filing for divorce, or if you are served with divorce papers filed by your spouse, in this state, it is important to understand what you need to know. This blog will provide a brief overview of the basics about divorce in Pennsylvania.
Divorce Laws in Pennsylvania
The first thing to consider about filing for divorce in Pennsylvania is that the state requires that at least one party has been a resident of the Commonwealth for at least six months before a divorce complaint can be filed. As far as the basis, or the “grounds” for divorce, no-fault grounds are most common, and that means there need be no proof, not even an allegation, of fault or wrongdoing by anyone, on either side. The basis of a no-fault divorce is the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage, which means that one or both parties assert that the marriage cannot be saved, even with counseling or therapy. At the proper time, each party can “consent” to divorcing based on this irretrievable breakdown. Alternatively, if one party does not consent, but the parties have lived separately from each other for at least one year, the court will determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken, and thus whether the divorce action may proceed.
Property Division & Spousal Support
When it comes to property division and financial considerations, Pennsylvania follows an equitable distribution approach. This means that property will be divided between the spouses in a manner that is fair, or “equitable,” not necessarily “equally.” Factors for the court’s consideration are set-out by statute, and these equitable considerations encompass financial and non-financial contributions made by each party during the marriage, as well as a catch-all provision, allowing the court to consider any other factor deemed relevant. Additionally, when it comes to alimony (or spousal support) either party may be obligated to pay, depending on their individual income levels, earning potential, health status, and other factors. Notably, court-ordered alimony may be modified over time, if circumstances change significantly, and it can be terminated in the event of the recipient’s remarriage/cohabitation.
Divorcing in Pennsylvania can seem like an intimidating process, due to its unique laws and regulations, but it need not be daunting or overwhelming. It is important to understand your rights under the law, so you can make informed decisions throughout the process, especially when those decisions involve property division, spousal support payments, or alimony. Be sure to consult with counsel who is knowledgeable about Pennsylvania’s laws before making any final decisions regarding your marital status. Click or Call 610-892-3877