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Why Might a PA Judge Decline a Divorce?

By Sheryl Rentz on June 28, 2023

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A marriage can only be dissolved through a divorce decree entered by the court. Although it is not common, there are some circumstances under which a Pennsylvania family court judge may decline a divorce. If you are facing divorce, it is important to seek professional guidance from an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney.

What Types of Divorce Are Recognized in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania recognizes three categories of divorce – mutual consent (no-fault), unconsented, and fault-based.

  • No-fault: When both parties terminate a marriage by mutual consent, it is a no-fault divorce. The only reason they are required to give the court for a divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. There is a 90-day waiting period after the complaint is filed.
  • Unconsented: If one spouse wants to divorce, but the other does not consent, divorce can still be granted provided the couple has been living separately and apart for at least one year, and the party seeking divorce can prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
  • Fault: When one spouse wants a divorce, the other does not agree, and the party seeking a divorce does not want to wait a year, he or she may seek a fault-based divorce. This requires proving that the other spouse is at fault and the spouse seeking divorce is not at fault. Legal grounds for fault-based divorce include adultery, bigamy, desertion for more than one year, cruel treatment, indignities, and a jail sentence of two years or more for conviction of a crime.

What Grounds Might a Judge Have for Declining Divorce?

A judge may decline to enter a divorce decree for any of several reasons, including the following:

  • Insufficient residency or jurisdiction: To file for divorce in Pennsylvania, one or both of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least the previous six months.
  • Lack of legal grounds: Legal grounds must be established for a divorce decree to be entered. In a no-fault or uncontested divorce, the grounds are simply that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In a fault-based divorce, other grounds, such as desertion, adultery, or cruel treatment, must be established.
  • Procedural errors or incomplete documentation: To obtain a divorce in Pennsylvania, you must adhere to proper legal procedures and submit accurate and complete documentation within established deadlines. Errors or omissions in the preparation and filing of paperwork, serving documents, or complying with court orders can result in a judge declining the divorce.
  • Lack of proper child custody or support arrangements: In matters concerning children, the court is guided by what will be in the best interests of the child. A judge may decline a divorce if proposed arrangements for child custody or child support are deemed inadequate or not in the child’s best interests.
  • Fraud, coercion, or duress: If there is evidence that fraud, coercion, or duress was used in obtaining consent or signing documents related to the divorce, the judge may decline to enter a divorce decree. Both parties must enter into a no-fault divorce voluntarily, without undue influence.

Why Is Legal Representation Important in Divorce Proceedings?

Our Pennsylvania divorce attorney can guide you smoothly through the legal process. We can ensure proper documentation, advocate for your interests, and protect your rights. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer who can help you avoid potential pitfalls that could lead to a judge declining your divorce.

A Pennsylvania judge could decline a divorce for a variety of reasons, including insufficient residency, procedural errors, lack of legal grounds, inadequate child custody or support arrangements, and fraud or duress. Contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. at (866) 290-9292. We can provide guidance, support, and expertise throughout divorce proceedings.

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