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What Are The Grounds For Divorce In Pa

How To Split Up Assets During A Divorce In Pennsylvania

Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania: Fault vs. No Fault

Any property that the couple acquired during the marriage is considered marital property for the purpose of a divorce. All marital property is subject to division by the court during the divorce process.

There are exceptions to what counts as marital property. The court does not consider the following items marital property:

  • Any property acquired before the marriage
  • Any property excluded by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
  • Property acquired between the final separation and the finalization of the divorce
  • Property that one of the two parties sold or disposed of in good faith before the date of final separation
  • Veterans benefits exempt from levy or seizure

How Colgan And Associates Can Help You

At Colgan & Associates, we want to help you work through your divorce matters quickly and fairly. We are experienced in handling no-fault divorce cases. Our experienced PA divorce mediation lawyers are helping couples resolve their matters outside of court so they may move forward with their lives. If you would like to better understand Pennsylvanias no-fault divorce process, please contact us today for a free initial phone consultation at 502-5000.

What Are The Fault

Despite the seeming insignificance of fault in a Pennsylvania divorce, Pennsylvania law still provides fault grounds for divorce. 23 Pa. C.S. §3301 provides:

Fault.The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has:

So, if you are required to prove that one spouse is at fault, what is the purpose of fault grounds?

Typically, for a couple to be divorced in Pennsylvania, they must consent to the divorce or at least agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, in addition to settling all economic issues. By these methods, the divorce will take at least 90 days if the parties consent to divorce, and up to 2 years if one of the parties will not consent. Sometimes a party refuses to consent to the divorce simply because he or she does not wish to be divorced other times, the reasoning is more complex. No matter what the reason, one way to push the divorce along is by establishing fault grounds for divorce. If it can be established that one spouse was clearly at fault, the Court can enter a divorce decree without the consent of the other spouse provided the economic claims of the parties have been resolved.

For more information on this topic or any other topic related to issues of divorce, custody, support or family law in general, please call .

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What Are The Differences Between Fault And No

The difference between these two kinds of divorce is the following:

Engaging in a fault-based proceeding is considered quite expensive because each spouse will need to hire a lawyer and some other experts to represent them in court and provide substantial evidence that can influence the judges final decision.

On the contrary, in a Pennsylvania no-fault divorce, they may not incur any costs at all. If spouses agree on all terms and have no reasons to blame each other, they will not need legal assistance unless they choose to get it.

Fault-based divorce is much longer than a no-fault one, as there will definitely be more than one court proceeding. Pennsylvania lawyers state that, on average, such kind of marriage dissolution lasts from half a year to a few. Fortunately, a no-fault divorce can be finalized as soon as the waiting period established in the state is over and the judge issues the Final Decree.

There are 6 fault grounds for divorce in the state of Pennsylvania, which can influence the general divorce outcomes. Most of them have to be proved in court, making this kind of dissolution even more challenging.

In a no-fault marriage dissolution, a couple may choose to have a mutual consent divorce or just state that their marriage is irretrievably broken. These options do not presuppose long court battles and can be finalized quite quickly.

How Do I Get A Free Divorce In Pa

How to file for a Divorce in PA

There is no such thing as a free divorce in Pennsylvania. You will have to hire an attorney to represent you, and there will be filing fees associated with your divorce petition.

It is easier to move on with an uncontested divorce when the parties reach a compromise. When you file a divorce as a self-represented litigant, the courts place the same requirements on you as they do on attorneys. Obtain information for child support, alimony, parenting plans, asset division, and other related negotiations. If you file for a no-fault and mutual consent divorce, you must complete the following steps. If both spouses agree to file, you may file in the county where either spouse lives. If you file a lawsuit, you are referred to as the plaintiff and your spouse is referred to as the defendant. If a spouse files a response to a divorce complaint, he or she has the right to do so.

According to Pennsylvania law, an uncontested divorce must be filed based on specific reasons. Wilfully desertion, adultery, bigamy, and extreme cruelty are some of the worst examples. Pennsylvania allows for the divorce to be finalized at any time. The residency requirement does not apply to married couples who have not lived in the state for six months. If your divorce isnt yet finalized, you can file a petition to dismiss the complaint if you work things out with your spouse.

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Different Rules For Different Counties In Pennsylvania For Filing A Complaint

If you and your spouse live in different counties, the plaintiff must file a complaint in the county where the defendant resides. If the defendant lives outside of Pennsylvania, the plaintiff may file a complaint in the county in which he or she lived before the defendant. In general, the plaintiff has the right to file a complaint in either county if both parties live in the same county. The court must be served with an affidavit of service by the plaintiff in addition to the complaint. This affidavit identifies the court that served the complaint on the defendant. A defendant has the right to object to the complaint and request that it be dismissed.

I Can’t Afford To Pay The Filing Fees

Costs to record, or file documents such as the complaint, vary from the type of document, or pleading, to the county in which you begin your case. Some court filing costs may be in the hundreds of dollars. If you cannot afford to pay these fees to the court, you will need to complete the form below entitled, In Forma Pauperis, a Latin term, referring to someone who cannot pay. You will be asked for your income and expense statements. The court may require that you appear in person for a hearing or a judge may decide based upon the information you provide on the In Forma Pauperis form. Instructions are included in the form. Once completed, take the IFP form to the appropriate records office in your county courthouse. This office is called the Prothonotary or Office of Judicial Records.

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What Are The Grounds For A Divorce In Pennsylvania

Sep 3, 2019 | Divorce, Uncontested Divorce

In Pennsylvania, we have Fault and No-Fault divorce and the grounds for each are different. First of all, even the simplest uncontested Fault divorce will be expensive because a hearing is required. Getting a lawyer out of the office and into Court is never cheap. At the hearing, you would be required to testify and have your testimony recorded that your spouse maliciously deserted you, subjected you to cruel and barbarous treatment or serious indignities, committed adultery and/or married another person while still married to you or has been convicted of a serious crime. Indignities are the grounds usually used and really does not require outrageous behavior by your spouse however, if your spouse shows up, that divorce stops dead.

In a no-fault divorce, you simply sign a divorce paper that states that your marriage is irretrievably broken . No court appearance or testimony of any kind is required, just your spouses full cooperation for a simple, uncontested, low-cost, no-fault divorce.

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Divorce: Fault And No

Divorce in Pennsylvania

Divorce is the ending of a marriage ordered by a court., In Pennsylvania there are two types of divorce: fault and no-fault. The fault grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania are:

  • Willful and malicious desertion and absence from the marital home, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years.
  • Extreme cruelty, including any physical or mental cruelty that endangers your safety or health, or which makes continued living together improper or unreasonable.
  • Knowingly entering a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still existing.
  • Sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two years upon conviction of having committed a crime.
  • Imposed such indignities on the innocent spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.
  • Insanity or serious mental disorder which has resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least eighteen months immediately before the filing of the complaint, and where there is no reasonably prospect that the spouse will be discharged from inpatient care during the 18 months subsequent to the commencement of the action.
  • All fault divorces require court testimony and an appearance by the client. No-fault divorces do not require a court appearance. Fault grounds as a basis for divorce in Pennsylvania are obsolete.

    Also Check: Fulton County Ga Divorce Records

    What Are The New Child Custody Laws In Pa

    In March 2019, PA courts instituted a new process for mediating high conflict custody cases, referred to as parenting coordination.

    The rule is designed to alleviate the backlog of cases, high costs of custody trials often exceeding $25-100K in legal fees and emotional impact on children and families.

    The new custody rule states, “parenting coordination is a non-confrontational, conflict-resolution process that helps families implement and comply with custody orders, reduce struggles between parents which harm their children, and minimize custody-related litigation.”

    These include, but are not limited to the following issues: school-related, behavior management, childcare and medical decisions.

    How To Manage Child Support And Alimony Under Pennsylvania Divorce Laws

    In Pennsylvania, the judge can order child support. There are guidelines for determining how much the non-custodial parent will pay in child support, but it is not a strict formula. The court will weigh any number of factors to determine the amount of the payments, including:

    • Each spouses income
    • Unusual financial needs of each spouse
    • Other support obligations of either party
    • Non-marital assets of each spouse
    • Extraordinary medical costs of any child
    • Standard of living for the child during the marriage
    • Any other factors, including the best interest of the child

    Note that child support only covers the basic needs of a child. There are also so-called extraordinary expenses that you must negotiate separately. These include things like childcare costs, private school tuition, summer camp fees and the cost of SAT prep classes.

    The court may also order alimony, also called spousal support. The judge will consider the following factors when determining whether to award spousal support:

    • Earnings and earning capacity of each spouse
    • Age and health of each spouse
    • Income sources, including insurance
    • Property brought to the marriage by each spouse
    • Contributions of each spouse as a homemaker
    • Needs of each party
    • Tax ramifications
    • Capability of the requesting spouse to support oneself

    Remember that youll need to take both alimony and child support into account when filing taxes after divorce.

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    Alternatives To The Courtroom

    Sometimes, it makes sense to seek a fault based divorce. In other cases, you may wish to resolve your divorce matter amicably and without court hearings.

    Divorce mediation is a popular option for couples seeking a private, efficient resolution to potentially contentious issues. Each party should retain his or her own legal counsel to act as their advocate, whether these decisions are made inside or outside of a courtroom.

    The Cost Of Filing For Divorce In Pennsylvania

    Complaint in Divorce

    When you’re ready to file your case, be prepared to pay a divorce filing fee. Filing fees in Pennsylvania may vary from county to county. In most counties, the filing fees for divorce total between $200 and $300. Information on court filing fees is available from the county clerk’s office.

    If you can’t afford to pay the filing fees, you can request a waiver, by filing a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. If the court grants your request to waive fees, you won’t have to pay any court costs during your divorce.

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    Pa Csa 3301 Domestic Relations

    Under Pennsylvania law, a divorce can be either fault-based or no-fault. Grounds for a fault-based divorce include the following: abandonment without a reasonable cause for a period of one or more years adultery cruel and barbarous treatment bigamy imprisonment for two or more years or movants spouse has acted in a way that made movants life unbearable or extremely difficult. Grounds for a no-fault divorce include the following: insanity or a serious mental disorder that resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of a divorce action or where a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken. When the grounds for divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may find that there is a reasonable prospect of reconciliation. If the court makes such a finding, it will continue the matter for up to 120 days, but not less than 90 days, unless the parties agree to a longer period. During this continuation period, if either party requests it, the court will require up to a maximum of three counseling sessions.

    File For Divorce In Pa

    If you are considering filing for divorce in Pennsylvania, it is important to understand the process and the requirements. The first step is to determine if you meet the residency requirements. You must be a resident of Pennsylvania for at least six months prior to filing. Once you have established residency, you will need to file a complaint with the court. The complaint is the legal document that starts the divorce process. You will need to serve your spouse with the complaint. Once your spouse has been served, they will have 30 days to respond. If they do not respond, you can proceed with a default divorce. If they do respond, you will need to attend a mediation session to attempt to resolve your differences. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you will need to go to trial.

    Divorce will result in an end to the marriage, as well as division of assets and debts. An uncontested divorce is one that you and your spouse can agree on everything. When there are minor children involved, both parties must resolve the issue of child custody and support. A divorce can only be granted if there are legal grounds for doing so. The judge has the authority to continue the case for 90 to 120 days and require marriage counseling as part of the proceedings. Desertion for one year, adultery, cruel and barbaric treatment, or both are fault-based grounds. Child custody decisions are made primarily by determining how the childrens time will be divided among parents.

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    However The Party Seeking The Divorce Can Expedite The Divorce By Proceeding On A Fault Ground If Consent Is Not Forthcoming

    A party might desire to expedite the divorce for any number of reasons. For example, the party may no longer wish to support their estranged spouse economically, or the party may want to sell the marital residence or just simply finally separate themselves from their estranged spouse.

    In these cases, a party can allege grounds for a fault divorce in a divorce complaint filed in Bucks County, Montgomery County or Philadelphia County. Then request a hearing to establish and prove the legal grounds for a fault divorce. In Bucks County Divorces, the process for establishing fault grounds consists of a record Divorce Masters hearing. Then, potentially a court trial if one party disagrees with the Bucks County Divorce Masters recommendation. The process is very similar in both Montgomery County divorces and Philadelphia County divorces. Practically speaking, however, with a fault hearing pending, parties are more likely to agree to consent to a divorce to avoid having the details of inappropriate conduct aired in court.

    Economic and emotional factors, as well as custody issues, can come into play in deciding whether it is advantageous to attempt to proceed on fault ground. Persons considering this option, therefore, should discuss the matter with a Bucks County divorce lawyer, a Montgomery County divorce lawyer or a Philadelphia County divorce lawyer, such as the attorneys at Cooley & Handy.

    What Is Marital Property In Pa And How Is Its Division Determined

    How Fast Can I Get A Divorce In Pennsylvania?

    Marital property in PA is any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name the property is in. However, marital property is subject to some exceptions as explained in Section 3501, Property Rights, of the PA Divorce Code.

    The actual value of the marital property is measured: as of the date of the parties’ separation, or if the parties are involved in court-contested litigation, as of trial date for the division of the property.

    PA is an equitable distribution state meaning that, should spouses go to court, the Court retains discretion over how the marital property gets divided, whether 50/50, 60/40 or some other percentage of division.

    The court may refer to any one or all of 13 factors listed in the equitable distribution statute to determine what it deems to be a fair and equitable split of the marital property.

    In divorce mediation, however, spouses themselves decide together what is the fairest split of the marital property, and a divorce mediator will refer to these guidelines as a starting point for negotiations.

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