Prior to 1980, in order to get divorced in Pennsylvania, fault needed to be proven by the party seeking the divorce. This was nothing short of messy, messy, messy. Not only did the party who had wished to be divorced need to prove that the other party was at fault in order to end the marriage, but, the party seeking the divorce also needed to be “…innocent and injured.” A party in a marriage needed to be “innocent” of any fault or having any part in the ending of the marriage? Really? Innocent? This was very rarely the case.
Generally, it is safe to say, both parties have a part in the ending of a marriage. Therefore, even if a Judge found that the party seeking the divorce could prove fault, if that party was not “innocent” in the break-up, a divorce was denied and the parties were forced to remain married. That also simply was untenable. Hence, no-fault divorce came into being in 1980.
No-fault divorce is just that: NO-fault. This means that the reasons for the marriage dissolution are not relevant and are not considered by the Court. It simply does not matter legally if your spouse had an affair, just left the marital home, or if there was or was not abuse. If you wish to be divorced you can be, and nothing more.
There are two methods of getting divorced, with the consent, or agreement, of the other spouse or without their consent.
A. CONSENSUAL NO-FAULT DIVORCE: Known as a “C” Divorce (because if is under the Divorce Code as a Section 3301 C Divorce), what is required is that a Divorce Complaint be filed with the Court and served on the other party. After 90 days have passed from the date of service of the Complaint, the parties may sign a Consent indicating an agreement to be divorced, file some final papers and Voila!, you are Divorced. Note that if there is property, which needs to be divided, and the parties have not agreed as to that property division before the 90 day period has run, this may slow down the divorce process.
B. NON-CONSENSUAL NO-FAULT DIVORCE: This is known as a “D” Divorce. If a party refuses to sign an Affidavit of Consent, which is mentioned in Section A above, you can still get divorced. However, the Divorce will not be granted until more than two years have passed from the date of Separation. Once that two year period has run, a party files a document with the Court stating:
1. The marriage is irretrievably broken; and
2. Two years have passed from the date of separation.
If the other party does not object to 1 and 2 above, you will be divorced, so long as your property issues, if any, are worked out.
Divorce planning is an integral part of our practice. Considering Separating or Divorcing? Contact our office to meet.