PENNSYLVANIA DIVORCE LAW
Divorce can be emotional and time consuming as each state has its own laws and regulations to follow. A divorce in Pennsylvania will legally end a marriage making the ex-spouses single and able to re-marry. There are alternatives to divorce such as an annulment or written agreement. If you are contemplating a divorce, a Pennsylvania divorce attorney should be consulted.
There is not a formal process for legal separation in Pennsylvania. If spouses choose, they can enter into a written agreement for issues such as property division, custody, and support, but there is not a type of ‘legal separation.’
Grounds For Divorce
Your grounds (or reasons) for wanting a divorce are set out in a document called a Complaint for Divorce that you file with your local Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. Pennsylvania recognizes fault-based grounds, no-fault-based grounds, and institutionalization as grounds for divorce. Deciding which is appropriate for your divorce can be difficult; thus, a Pennsylvania divorce attorney should be contacted.
Divorce Residency Requirements
To properly file for divorce in Pennsylvania one of the parties to the divorce must have been a resident of Pennsylvania for six months preceding the filing. Divorce paperwork should be filed with the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas in the county where either spouse resides or where the spouses lived while married, depending on the circumstances. The County Clerk’s Office of the Court of Common Pleas will manage the divorce paperwork with the court.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
Pennsylvania does not have separate divorce procedures for “special” divorces. Although, if a divorce is mutually consented to and an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (as discussed above in Grounds for Divorce) is established, the court shall grant a divorce without requiring a hearing on any other grounds.
In Pennsylvania, an annulment is a declaration that a marriage is void (never valid to begin with) or voidable and does not require a divorce to end the marriage. An annulment of a supposed or alleged marriage of a person shall be deemed void if either or both parties: (1) had an existing spouse; (2) are related to a degree not allowed in Pennsylvania law; (3) lacked capacity to consent or did not intend to consent to the marriage (i.e., insanity or serious mental disorder); or (4) either party is underage. There are additional ways to obtain an annulment, such as lack of parental consent, fraud, duress, or influence of alcohol or drugs. Speaking with a Pennsylvania divorce attorney will help you to determine if annulment is the right choice for you.
Property Division in a Pennsylvania Divorce
In Pennsylvania, property distribution in a divorce is divided through the system of “equitable distribution,” also known as “common law” or “marital property.” In Pennsylvania, “marital property" means all property acquired by either party during the marriage and the increase in value of any nonmarital property, regardless of who holds title to the property. The court may consider each marital asset or group of assets independently and apply a different percentage to each marital asset or group of assets based on an array of varying factors such as the length of the marriage, the age, health, and station of the spouses, and the standard of living established during the marriage. Property division in a divorce can be a lengthy and complicated matter. The advice of a Pennsylvania divorce attorney is suggested.
Links to Divorce Statutes