The state of Pennsylvania recognizes four ways in which a couple can seek a Divorce. They are:
- Mutual Consent Divorce
- One year separation
- Fault divorce
If you are considering Divorce, it is important that you seek an experienced divorce attorney so you can discuss all your options. Professional legal advice ensures that the correct measures are taken for a smooth divorce process and that your rights are protected.
A Mutual Consent divorce is filed using the 3301(c) form.
This is usually the most common type of divorce, where both parties consent to getting a divorce. In a mutual consent divorce, ninety (90) days after the divorce Complaint has been served, both parties shall file an affidavit that consents to divorce. At this point, the judge may grant the divorce. Issues related to custody, alimony and property may be settled by the parties and prepared in a written document by their respective attorneys in that initial ninety (90) day period. Should it transpire that the parties are unable to settle on any of the aforementioned issues, then the judge will hold a hearing to decide on those matters. It is often overlooked, but very important to retain an experienced divorce attorney so that you do not risk losing any of your legal rights, or agree to terms, that you do not fully understand.
A No-Consent Divorce is filed using the 3301(d) form.
Note: The mandatory one year separation period was previously two years before the law changed, in October 2016.
A one year separation divorce is also known as a no-consent divorce. This typically occurs when one party refuses to agree to a divorce. In this type of divorce, the spouse seeking divorce must establish that they have been separated for one (1) year. If this condition is not met, then the spouse must wait until they have been separated for one year, before moving forward. After the one year separation is fulfilled, the petitioner can sign an affidavit stating that they and their spouse have been separated for one year and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The same affidavit is then served on the other party. If the respondent spouse fails to respond, the court may grant a default judgment and order the divorce. If, however, the respondent spouse responds by denying the allegations contained in the affidavit, either by denying that the marriage is irretrievably broken or the one year separation, then court will hold a hearing to decide whether the divorce should be granted or denied.
Institutionalization is another ground for divorce recognized in the State of Pennsylvania. Institutionalization occurs if one spouse is confined to a mental institution for insanity or a mental disorder, leaving the other spouse is entitled to file for a divorce. To obtain a divorce under institutionalization, the spouse seeking a divorce must wait 18 months after the other spouse is institutionalized to initiate the divorce process. Furthermore, there must be no reasonable hope that the other spouse will be discharged for another 18 months after divorce filings.
This type of divorce may be granted without a court hearing.
A fault divorce is more costly and time consuming than a no-fault divorce, because the fault must be proven.
In a fault divorce, the plaintiff must prove in court that the defendant is at fault for the failure of their marriage. This can be due to adultery, domestic violence, bigamy, imprisonment (for two or more year), unreasonable actions of spouse that make your life unbearable and abandonment without reasonable cause for over a year.