Pennsylvania Divorce Laws
Just as there are laws for getting married (such as consent, age, etc.), states also regulate the divorce process. State laws vary but typically have a waiting period before a divorce is finalized, residency requirements, jurisdictional requirements, and various legal grounds available for divorce. Grounds for divorce typically fall into one of two main categories:
- Fault (such as abuse, abandonment, infidelity, etc.)
- Irreconcilable Differences (another term for "no-fault" divorce)
Pennsylvania divorce laws include residency of one six months for at least one party before filing; divorces are immediately final with no waiting period. Since Pennsylvania began legally recognizing same-sex unions in 2014, divorce procedures are universal regardless of the couple's gender make-up.
Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania
Statute lists the following legal grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania:
- Irretrievable Breakdown (no-fault)
- Separation (see below)
- Cruelty or Violence
|Code Section||Tit. 23 §§3101 to 3707; Pa. R. Civ. P. 400; 1920.1-1920.92|
|Residency Requirements||Bona fide residency by one party at least 6 months before filing.|
|Waiting Period||Immediately final, subject to appeal.|
|'No Fault' Grounds for Divorce||
Separation Period Minimums
One Year Minimum: If you have been living separate and apart from your spouse on or after Dec. 5th, 2016, you will have to wait one year before filing for a Pennsylvania divorce
Two Years Minimum: If began living separate and apart from your spouse before Dec. 5th, 2016, you will have to wait two years before filing for a Pennsylvania divorce.
***The previous requirement of two year separation was amended by the Pennsylvania lawmakers in 2016, reducing the separation time requirement to one year after the effective date of the new law.***
|Defenses to a Divorce Filing||Existing common-law defense, to all grounds but irretrievably broken marriage.|
|Other Grounds for Divorce||Adultery; cruelty or violence; desertion for 1 or more yrs.; insanity (confined for 18 mos.); bigamy; conviction of crime (sentenced to prison for 2 or more yrs. also; indignities makes life intolerable and burdensome; irretrievable breakdown and 90 days passed since action was filed and mutual consent).|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Pennsylvania family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Pennsylvania Family Laws Related Resources:
- Pennsylvania Legal Research
- Pennsylvania Code
- Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.
- Understanding the Divorce Process
- FindLaw Family Law Center: Divorce
Have a Divorce Lawyer Review Your Case for Free
Divorce is an adversarial process that can involve intense emotions and difficult decisions. If your estranged spouse has legal representation, you will also want to contact a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer for a free case review. That way, you'll know what to expect moving forward.