Divorce in Pennsylvania
- Divorce in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Grounds for Divorce
- Filing with the Court in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Divorce Property Distribution
- Pennsylvania Child Custody Laws
- What are the Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania?
- How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Pennsylvania?
- How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in Pennsylvania?
- Does Pennsylvania Have Alimony (Spousal Support)?
- How Does Pennsylvania Handle Child Custody and Support?
- Do We Need to Go to Court for a Divorce in Pennsylvania?
- Can I Modify a Divorce Decree in Pennsylvania?
From a legal standpoint, divorce decree falls into two basic categories: contested or no-fault. Pennsylvania divorce laws call the “no-fault” divorce a mutual consent divorce. It is the fastest and simplest way to end a marriage in the state.
If one spouse has been living for at least six months in Pennsylvania then they are considered a resident and can file the mutual consent divorce petition. Once a judge has determined that both parties agree to the terms, they can make the divorce official after 90 days.
A variation of the mutual consent divorce is the irretrievable divorce. This type of no-fault divorce is granted if the husband and wife have lived apart for at least two years and both agree that the marriage can’t be fixed.
The same 90-day rule applies to make it official. The contested divorce is where it can get messy. This is when the “innocent and injured” spouse sets forth specific grounds for divorce. Often those grounds are contested.
Pennsylvania Grounds for Divorce
In a Pennsylvania fault divorce, the injured spouse needs to prove that their partner has abandoned them without regard for up to a year or has created a hostile living environment through physical or emotional abuse.
Additional grounds would be if a spouse was involved in an adulterous affair or found to be married to another person at the same time. And if a spouse has been convicted of a felony crime and is serving up to two years in jail, a judge will grant a divorce.
Filing with the Court in Pennsylvania
You must file your Pennsylvania divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in Pennsylvania are listed below:
- Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas:
Front & Market Streets, Harrisburg, PA 17101 Phone: 717-780-6620 (Divorce Complaints are filed with the Prothonotary:) (717) 780-6520
- Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas:
300 Frick Building, 436 Grant Street, Room 114, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 Phone: (412) 350-5322
- Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas:
336 City Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19107 Phone: 215 686-2547
- Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas:
50 North Duke Street, P.O. Box 83480, Lancaster, PA 17608-3480 Phone: 717-299-8041
- Berks County Court of Common Pleas:
Berks County Services Center, 633 Court Street, Reading, PA 19601 Phone: 610-478-6208
- Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas:
455 West Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18105-1548 Phone: 610-782-3148 (civil)
- Northampton County Court of Common Pleas:
669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042 Phone: 610-559-6701
- Erie County Court of Common Pleas:
140 West Sixth Street, Room 201, Erie, PA 16501-1030 Phone: 814-451-6295
- Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas:
Lawrence County Government Center, 430 Court Street, New Castle, PA 16101 Phone: 724-656-1930
- Bucks County Court of Common Pleas:
55 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA 18901 Phone: 215-348-6040
- Delaware County Court of Common Pleas:
201 West Front Street, Media, PA 19063 Phone: 610-891-4550
- Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas:
County Courthouse, P.O. Box 311, Norristown, PA 19404 Phone: 610-278-3229
If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.
Pennsylvania Divorce Property Distribution
Any asset, property, or money that was generated during the marriage is considered to be a marital asset. In a Pennsylvania divorce, a judge will determine what is the best course of action with regard to dividing the marital assets between the spouses. The best advice is to work out the marital asset distribution before getting in front of the judge.
If those terms can’t be agreed upon then the judge will consider the length of the marriage and the contributions each spouse made to those assets. Those contributions could have come in the form of paying for an education of one partner who is now in an advanced career.
A judge will also consider the financial status of each spouse and what kind of tax burden might be assessed. Lastly, if there are children involved the judge will also consider where their primary residence will be.
Pennsylvania Child Custody Laws
If children are involved in a divorce case where both sides have requested custody, then it will fall to the judge to determine what is in the best interests of the children.
The Protection From Abuse Act states that if there is proven abuse from one parent then the other parent will be given sole custody. When abuse is not an issue, the judge takes into account what might be the least disruptive change for the children. However, if both parents have established the desire to set up equal and safe living environments then dual custody can be awarded.
For child support, the court uses the “Income Shares” rates that most states have adopted. They will also consider the specific earning potential of the spouse who might be required to pay child support.
Commonly asked questions about divorce laws in Pennsylvania typically cover several key areas. Here are some frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers:
What are the Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania allows both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. No-fault grounds typically include mutual consent or separation for a specified period (a separation period of one year in case of no mutual consent). Fault-based grounds might involve adultery, cruelty, desertion, or imprisonment.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Pennsylvania?
The time required to finalize a divorce in Pennsylvania can vary based on court schedules, the complexity of the case, and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Generally, it can take several months to over a year.
How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania follows the principle of equitable distribution. Marital property and debts are divided fairly, though not necessarily equally, based on factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, and their contributions during the marriage.
Does Pennsylvania Have Alimony (Spousal Support)?
Yes, Pennsylvania allows for spousal support. The court may award temporary or long-term support based on factors such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, and their contributions during the marriage.
How Does Pennsylvania Handle Child Custody and Support?
Child custody decisions are made based on the best interests of the child. Pennsylvania courts consider various factors including the child’s relationship with each parent, the parents’ ability to provide for the child, and the child’s wishes (if they’re of sufficient age). Child support is determined using the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines.
Do We Need to Go to Court for a Divorce in Pennsylvania?
If both parties can agree on all terms of the divorce, they might not need to go to court. Uncontested divorces can often be settled through paperwork and negotiation outside of court. However, if disputes persist, a court appearance might be necessary.
Can I Modify a Divorce Decree in Pennsylvania?
Modifications to child support, child custody, or spousal support are possible under certain circumstances if there’s a substantial change in circumstances. Legal procedures are typically required for modifications.
These questions address common concerns individuals have when navigating divorce in Pennsylvania. However, specifics can vary based on each unique situation. Seeking legal counsel is often advisable to address individual circumstances and receive accurate guidance throughout the divorce process.