Navigating the Legal Landscape: Types of Divorce in Pennsylvania

Navigating the legal landscape of divorce can be tricky. Today, we touch on some of the basics.

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Navigating the legal landscape when it comes to divorce can be intimidating. There are a lot of emotions involved in divorce: fear, resentment, guilt, shame, and anger. But breaking down the basics can help you get through this difficult time with a little more ease. 

There are two types of divorces in Pennsylvania: fault and no-fault.

Fault Based Divorce

In a fault based divorce, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant committed some sort of wrong. There are six (6) grounds for fault based divorce in Pennsylvania. 

Desertion – Desertion occurs when the offending party willfully and maliciously deserts the innocent spouse for more than one year. However, if the “innocent” party gave justifiable grounds to the deserting party, the grounds for a fault-based desertion pleading may not stand.

Adultery – Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a non-spouse. When pleading adultery, the plaintiff must be the innocent spouse. 

Cruel and Barbarous Treatment – Cruel and barbarous treatment exists when one spouse endangers the life or health of the innocent spouse.

Bigamy – Bigamy exists when a spouse knowingly enters into a marriage while still married to someone else. 

Prison – If a spouse is sentenced to prison for a term longer than 2 years, a spouse may plead a fault based ground of divorce.

Indignities – Indignities requires a course of conduct by the offending spouse that is inconsistent with the marital relationship and renders the condition of the innocent spouse intolerable and life burdensome. This may include vulgarity, unmerited reproach, neglect, intentional incivility, disdain, abusive language, malignant ridicule, hatred, and estrangement. 

No-fault Divorce

The more common type of divorce in Pennsylvania is the no-fault divorce. With a no-fault divorce, no fault is being alleged between the parties. Instead, one party simply states that the marriage is irretrievably broken. A marriage is irretrievably broken with there is estrangement due to marital difficulties and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. 

There are two types of no-fault divorces: 3301(c) Divorce and 3301(d) Divorce. A 3301(c) divorce requires (a) irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, (b) ninety (90) days have passed since the filing of the complaint, and (c) consent to the divorce of both parties. A 3301(d) divorce requires (a) separation of at least one year and (b) an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

So there you have it. These are the two primary types of divorce in Pennsylvania. Should you have any questions about the divorce process, feel free to reach out our family law team at Dodaro, Matta, & Cambest, P.C. at 412-243-1600.

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