Types of Divorce Available in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law recognizes two types of divorce: “no-fault” and “fault-based” divorce. Divorcing spouses may each work with an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney of their choice when seeking either type of divorce. In most situations, it is wisest to get the advice and assistance of an attorney to protect your legal rights.
Most divorces in Pennsylvania are no-fault divorces. If both spouses agree that it is time to divorce, they may seek an “uncontested” no-fault divorce. One spouse files for this divorce, and after 90 days, each spouse may file an Affidavit of Consent to divorce. Although this is often the least contentious and simplest way to divorce, it is still wise to speak to an attorney to deal with any property division or child care issues.
If one spouse will not agree to divorce, the other may still file for a no-fault “unilateral” or “irretrievable breakdown” divorce if the spouses have been living separately for at least two years. Because you and your spouse may disagree on when you started living separately, obtaining legal advice is crucial.
A “fault-based” divorce is based on specific wrongdoing by one of the spouses, such as adultery or commission of a felony. Although fault needs to be demonstrated as the basis for the divorce, it is not considered when the court makes a decision about dividing the marital property between the spouses. Instead, as in all divorces, property is divided according to guidelines for “fairness,” which weigh several factors to determine how best to divide both assets and debts.
If custody of children, support, or arguments over property division is involved, it is best to work with an attorney, no matter what type of divorce you seek.