Deborah Zitomer Esquire, LLC
Advocating for Families In Norristown and Montgomery County Since 1990

Pennsylvania Divorce 101

Divorce. It's a word that no married couple ever wants to hear - nor expects to. But as time goes on, some may reach the point where they realize that they have no other option but to end a marriage. When that occurs, filing for divorce is the only way to legally dissolve the marriage. However, it can be a process. Understanding the basics of divorce including what the grounds for a divorce are, how long it will take, and what to expect will be instrumental in mentally preparing one's self for the process.

With that in mind, a quick review of the key points is something that is well worth doing.

The Grounds For Divorce

First, you'll need to understand what the grounds for divorce are. Under Pennsylvania law, there are two types of divorce: Fault, and no-fault. In a 'fault' divorce, you must show that your spouse acted in a way that led to the request for a divorce - essentially, that they're at fault. Here are some examples of what can contribute to a fault based divorce.

  • Adultery
  • Bigamy
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment
  • Abuse
  • Willful desertion for one or more years
  • Imprisonment of your spouse for two or more years
  • Actions that render your life burdensome and intolerable

If it's found that these different factors don't exist, you'll have to seek a no fault divorce. These are generally more common, and involve you and your spouse agreeing that the marriage is broken, irreconcilable, and that you both wish to end the marriage outright.

Waiting Periods

A new law signed in 2016 has lowered waiting periods for those who meet certain requirements. Initially, the waiting period is 2 years if a non-consensual divorce is what is taking place. However, the recent changes have lowered that period to one year in most cases and in some instances it may be even lower.

However, if both spouses agree that the divorce is amicable, it can take much less time for the divorce to occur.

Terms of the Divorce

Here's where emotions can flare up quickly and in a significant way. In general, determining things like child custody, child support, spousal support, division of assets and property, and more will all be challenging. For most couples, seeking out the help of a divorce attorney to help with mediation is recommended.

An attorney can help to argue your case, prepare you for the process, and ensure that your rights are represented to their fullest. Additionally, they can help make it easier to negotiate a fair agreement with your spouse.

The Bottom Line

A divorce is never easy to go through, but knowing the points above early on could help make it easier to take the appropriate steps to make your divorce go as smoothly as it possibly can.

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Deborah Zitomer Esquire, LLC
11 E. Airy Street
Norristown, PA 19401

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