If one party dies during a Pennsylvania divorce, the outcome of the case, whether it will continue in Family Court or be transferred to Probate Court, depends on one factor, whether grounds for divorce had been established. In today's blog, your Western Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyers discuss exactly what is required to show that grounds for divorce have been established and what happens if these grounds have not been established.
Pennsylvania Law, 23 Pa.C.S. to be precise, provides that if one spouse dies while a divorce is pending, and if grounds for divorce have been established, the court can proceed with the process of distributing the marital property. If the parties haven't established grounds for divorce, division of the marital assets is determined under the Probate Code instead of under Pennsylvania equitable distribution law.
There are several different ways in which grounds for divorce can be established. If fault divorce was pending, the Court needs to have found that grounds were established. If both parties consented to the divorce, grounds are automatically established. Lastly, if an affidavit of two year separation was filed without consent or the court found two years of separation had elapsed, and the marriage was irretrievably broken, the Court will likely determine that grounds have been proven.
Where grounds are not established as of the date of death, the old rules apply and the PA family court will not be able to handle the divorce. If this is the case, each party's rights are determined by laws like the Retirement Equity Act, the rights of joint owners, including as tenants by the entirety, and the rights to take against the will under the Probate Code.
If you are considering filing for divorce in Pennsylvania or if you are in the middle of a divorce proceeding, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced Pittsburgh Divorce Lawyer like our attorneys at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates. Our team will work with you to make the PA divorce process as easy and stress free as possible for you.