To file for divorce in Pennsylvania, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the Commonwealth for at least the past six months. How long does it take to get a divorce in Pennsylvania? That depends on whether you and your spouse both want the divorce, and on how closely you can agree on settlement matters.
Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” state, which means you can get a divorce without proving that your spouse did anything wrong.
No-fault divorces fall into two categories: mutual consent divorce and two-year separation divorce.
Mutual consent divorce
This is the most common type of divorce, and it essentially means that both spouses agree to divorce. A divorce complaint is drawn up, and it’s served on the defendant.
Both spouses’ lawyers can then try to work out a settlement concerning issues such as custody, property settlement, alimony & spousal support. Pennsylvania is not a state that automatically divides property equally between you and your spouse. A written agreement concerning a fair division of assets and the distribution of property in your PA divorce case can be drawn up, signed by both spouses, and ordered by the court.
If a settlement agreement hasn’t been reached regarding custody or support, the court may schedule a conference to help resolve these issues. For property issues, a conference has to wait until the mandatory time periods pass and the consents have been signed, or until you have been separated for at least two years.
Ninety days after the defendant has been served the divorce complaint, both spouses can file an affidavit consenting to the divorce. The divorce is only granted after the consents are signed, however, if all claims filed in the divorce complaint have been resolved. If there are any outstanding issues related to alimony or property, for example, they must resolved prior to the decree being signed.
Two-year separation divorce
This is another type of no-fault divorce. The plaintiff may need to pursue this type of divorce if the defendant refuses to consent to the divorce and won’t sign the affidavit.
The spouse wanting the divorce can wait until the couple has been separated for two years, and then sign an affidavit stating this fact, as well as the fact that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The other spouse is then served with an affidavit. If they don’t respond, the court can grant a divorce.
The other spouse can then deny that they’ve been separated for two years, or deny that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In that case, the court will hold a hearing to decide if these requirements have been met and if so, grant a divorce.
This type of divorce is seldom used in Pennsylvania, since it’s generally more complicated and expensive. The spouse seeking a divorce must prove that the other spouse is at fault, for reasons including adultery or violence. The spouse seeking the divorce must also prove that he or she is innocent of wrongdoing.
Divorce can be complicated, and you need to make sure your rights are protected. The PA divorce attorneys at Penglase & Benson can help guide you through the process and make sure you receive the best possible settlement to which you’re entitled. Contact us today.