Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

Types of Divorces in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania: A Hybrid Divorce Jurisdiction

Divorce is typically thought to be a uniform process for all couples.  However, in Beaver County, it can actually happen in a number of ways.  Pennsylvania is "hybrid" jurisdiction when it comes to divorce--meaning there are both "fault-based" and "no-fault based" ways of getting a divorce in state. 

Read further to learn the differences between fault-based and no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania.

In order for a Pennsylvania Court to have jurisdiction to grant a divorce, one of the spouses must have been a bona fide resident of Pennsylvania for at least six months prior to filing for divorce in state.  This person also must have intent to stay in Pennsylvania as evidenced by their intention to make PA their "domicile" or home state. 

There are two ways to get divorced in Pennsylvania, hence the "hybrid" nature of PA divorces.  The first way is through a fault-based divorce.  This is the type of divorce filed when one spouse has a specific reason to want to be divorced from the other spouse.  This can be based on a variety of factors, including: Desertion for more than one year, Adultery, Cruel and Barbarous Treatment (or intentional, unprovoked violence), Bigamy, Imprisonment of one spouse for two or more years, or Indignities (or persistent mental cruelty).  One spouse files a divorce complaint alleging one of these factors, and stating that because their spouse's actions/behavior fit into one of these categories, the divorce is effectively based on that spouse's "fault." 

There are also affirmative defenses to fault-based divorce, such as Condonation, or demonstrating that you are accepting of the other spouse's conduct and you have forgiven them, or other defenses that can be raised affirmatively in response to a fault-based divorce.

No-fault divorce does not mean that you are not alleging a "ground" for divorce.  Rather, that "ground" is that there is an "Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage."  This can happen in two ways.  The first way is when both spouses agree to the divorce, and there is mutual consent.  One party files the divorce complaint and the other admits allegations through affidavits.  In this instance, 90 days must elapse after filing the complaint before the divorce will be granted.

The second way this is done is called "Unilateral No-Fault Divorce," where one spouse is admitting the parties' marriage is irretrievably broken, and then the parties must live separate and apart for two years before the divorce can be finalized.

Have questions about Fault-Based or No-Fault Based Divorce in Pennsylvania? We have the answers!

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