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What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania?

By Sheryl Rentz on May 5, 2014

Spouses who are seeking a divorce in Pennsylvania have two options: file for a no-fault divorce or file for a fault-based divorce.  The grounds for each type of divorce are different.  Knowing the grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania and speaking to an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney can help you decide which option is best for you and your family.

Fault-based divorce

The grounds for a fault-based divorce places all blame with your spouse.  They attempt to demonstrate to the court that the divorce should be granted due to wrongdoing on your spouse’s part.  Grounds for a fault-based divorce in Pennsylvania include:

  • Abandonment, without reasonable cause, for at least one year,
  • Adultery,
  • Bigamy,
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment that threatened your life or health,
  • Imprisonment of your spouse for at least two years following conviction for a crime,
  • Acts that have made your life unbearable or extremely difficult.
    • Mutual consent between you and your spouse that the marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be fixed.  After each spouse files an affidavit, the court will typically grant a divorce within 90 days.
    • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  This includes living separately from your spouse for at least two years.  Your attorney can help you understand the other requirements for no-fault divorce on these grounds.
    • Institutionalization for mental health reasons.  The institutionalization must have lasted at least 18 months, with no reasonable belief that your spouse will be discharged from institutional care in the next 18 months.
  • No-fault divorce

    A no-fault divorce does not require either spouse to prove the other one did anything wrong.  Instead, a no-fault divorce seeks simply to end the marriage.  Grounds for no-fault divorce include:

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