You know you want to get a divorce and maybe even know the reason why. Your spouse may be unfaithful, abusive or addicted. Maybe you just grew apart and no longer have anything in common. You may not even really know why you want a divorce, just that you cannot keep on living like this.
Do any of these reasons matter in getting a divorce in Pennsylvania? The short answer is no, because Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. However, the longer answer is it depends.
The state has only allowed no-fault divorce since 1980. This approach means you do not have to prove any marital misconduct and only need to claim irretrievable breakdown. Pennsylvania also used to impose a three-year waiting period if one of the spouses did not want to divorce, in hopes that the couple would reconcile. In 1988, the time went down to two years and then recently changed again in December 2016 to one year of living apart. If you both agree to divorce, or your spouse is legally guilty of a personal injury crime against you, you only have to wait 90 days.
Usually, no-fault divorce is the better way to go because proving fault can be challenging. However, if children are involved, and your spouse's behavior has an effect on your children's well-being, then pursuing a fault divorce may be beneficial. You may end up with sole custody or receive higher child support. A family law attorney can help you determine if this route is right under your circumstances. Reasons for a fault divorce according to Pennsylvania law are:
- Deserting the family for at least a year without reasonable cause
- Cheating on you
- Treating you cruelly
- Committing bigamy
- Serving a prison sentence of two or more years after receiving a criminal conviction
- Making your life intolerable through indignities
A separate situation involves your spouse being in a mental institution for 18 months with no likelihood of release within the next 18 months.