What are the grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania?
A divorce may be granted in Pennsylvania divorce law using either “Fault” or “No-Fault” grounds.
Fault grounds include:
- imprisonment for two or more years;
- confinement for incurable insanity for 18 months immediately before the filing of the complaint;
- willful desertion, without a reasonable cause, for one year;
- mental or physical cruelty and inhuman treatment that endangers the health or life of one spouse, or that makes living together intolerable;
- imposing serious indignities on one spouse making that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.
No-Fault grounds include:
- Mutual consent. The court may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action under this part and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce.
- Irretrievable breakdown. The court may grant a divorce where a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken and an affidavit has been filed alleging that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken
Fault divorces require court testimony and an appearance by the client; no-fault divorces do not require a court appearance. Of these, the no-fault grounds are the most straightforward and easiest to prove.
In a divorce, the court declares the marriage contract broken; in an annulment, the court says that there never was a marriage. Annulment is much more difficult to prove — and is much rarer — than divorce. Of course, if you want an annulment for religious reasons, you’ll need to consult with your priest, minister, or rabbi as well. The rules for the annulment of void and voidable marriages in Pennsylvania are complicated; if you want to go this route, you will definitely need to speak to a divorce attorney.
You’ll need to provide your divorce lawyer with the following documentation, in order to proceed with your dissolution in Pennsylvania. Start gathering everything together as soon as possible so that you can find out what might be missing and submit any requests for duplicates.
- Full addresses and phone numbers of both parties.
- Full names, birth dates, and addresses of all children of the marriage, their school and grade.
- Information about any prior marriage of either spouse, including a certified copy of the divorce decree.
- A copy of any domestic contracts (e.g. a prenuptial agreement).
- Information about any previous legal proceedings between the spouses or involving any of the children.
- Dates and particulars about any previous separations, attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counseling.
- Your previous year’s income tax return, and any related data from the IRS.
- Information about your current income (e.g., a current pay slip).
- A list of substantial assets and liabilities of both spouses.
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