Within the past year, Pennsylvania has changed the law regarding no-fault divorce. The ability to file for a no-fault divorce grants you the opportunity to go through a divorce with dignity and avoid a long, drawn-out messy process.

What Is No-Fault Divorce?

No-fault divorce means that the individual filing for divorce is not required to show any fault by their spouse. If their spouse does not agree, the couple then must wait a designated period before they can divide their assets and determine alimony payments. Essentially, it allows couples to divorce without assigning blame. “Irreconcilable differences” is the most well-known reason cited in no-fault cases.

No-fault divorce has been legal in Pennsylvania since 1980, when a three-year waiting period was required. In 1988, the waiting period was reduced to two years. Divorce rates in Pennsylvania have been steadily declining since 1980, although the marriage rate has declined at a more rapid rate.

To file for divorce in Pennsylvania, one spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months.

The New Law

A few months ago, a new law went into place that changed the length of the waiting period required to resolve any objections. Previously, couples needed to wait two years from the date of separation. Now couples must only wait a year before finalizing their divorce.

The change was designed to allow couples to divorce with dignity, avoiding stress and family discord. Luzerne Representative Tara Toohil stated, “Children end up being pawns in a divorce game and people end up going broke due to legal fees and a failure to manage mortgages and bills in a timely fashion.”

If neither party objects to the divorce, then the couple undergoes a mutual consent divorce. This can be granted 90 days after the divorce filing. For this to happen, both parties will need to file an affidavit consenting to the divorce.

What Is The Date Of Separation?

The date of separation can be subjective, and considered to be two different things by the parties involved. It could be considered the date when one spouse moved out, or it could be considered the date when one spouse filed a complaint in divorce. Legally, the date of separation is established by the divorce complaint. However, if an earlier date can be confirmed with evidence, that date could potentially be cited as the date of separation. In no-fault cases, you would then need to be separated for one year after that date.

The following factors can be considered when determining the date of separation.

  • The amount of time spent by both parties at the marital residence
  • The room the parties slept in
  • Where the couples ate their meals. Were they together?
  • Vacations taken by the parties together. Where they trips taken together? Were they designed to benefit the couple or any children?
  • Did the couple put on the appearance that everything was ok, simply to protect the children?
  • Whether the couple lived different lives
  • Any sexual relations the couple engaged in
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