Pennsylvania Fault-Based Divorce Amendment

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Pennsylvania law permits parties to a divorce action to proceed as a no fault-based or fault-based divorce. No fault divorce means that you file and assert the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage, meaning that the marriage is broken beyond repair. In this type of divorce, neither party has to prove fault. Fault-based divorce means that you have to prove one of fault grounds to have the divorce be allowed to proceed. The fault-based divorce grounds include adultery, abandonment, cruelty, bigamy, conviction with imprisonment for over two years, and actions that make the marriage intolerable.

On April 21, 2016, after having been successfully passed in the State House and Senate, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 12 of 2015 which serves to speed up the divorce process in fault-based divorces where one spouse has committed a personal injury crime against the other spouse. Personal Injury crimes as defined by the statute include: homicide, assault, kidnapping, human trafficking, sexual offenses, arson, and robbery. The amendment, Act 24 of 2016, as signed by Governor Wolf, will become law on June 20, 2016.

The new law allows the victim spouse to proceed with the divorce without the written consent of the offending party, as his or her consent is effectively presumed pursuant to the amended statute. The offending party must have been convicted of one of the above-mentioned crimes for their consent to the divorce to be presumed pursuant to the new law.

The new law has been passed to allow victims of domestic violence to obtain a divorce without having to wait the mandatory two-year period absent the other party’s written consent. If you have questions about the grounds for fault-based divorce or think you may qualify for one of the new exceptions to fast-track your divorce, contact our Pittsburgh Divorce Attorneys today.