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Pennsylvania Divorce Waiting Period Could Be Reduced

By Sheryl Rentz on December 1, 2015

Under current Pennsylvania law, there is a two-year statutory waiting time period in “no- fault” divorce cases. This means that the majority of separated couples in Pennsylvania cannot officially divorce until they have been apart for two years.

Recently, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has voted to pass House Bill 380, which will reduce the statutory waiting time period from two years to one year. The bill now goes to the Senate where it will be considered.

If the bill does not become law, the waiting period of no-fault divorces will remain at two years. Currently, if you file for a no-fault divorce in which both spouses give consent through written declarations, there is a 90-day waiting period before the divorce is granted. Futhermore, they must show that they have lived apart for at least two years.

There is no waiting period, however, for fault-based divorces in Pennsylvania. In a “fault” divorce, there must be a specific reason for the divorce such as bad conduct. Common fault-based grounds for divorce that can help spouses avoid the two-year waiting period include:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment without cause
  • Cruelty such as domestic violence
  • Bigamy (multiple marriages)
  • Imprisonment for two or more years

It is important to understand if you are entering into a no-fault or fault-based divorce.

Many divorce procedures do not result from wrongdoing or bad conduct but from two people growing apart. In a “no-fault” divorce, there are irreconcilable differences and the marriage cannot be saved. People grow apart, but under current law, couples who only have irreconcilable differences cannot legally get divorced until after they have completed the two-year waiting period.

It is unclear if the state Senate will approve the bill. If you have questions about the law and whether recent changes will affect your divorce, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced Montgomery County family law attorney.

Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. can help. Call us at (610) 645-0100 to discuss your situation.



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