People often wonder if one party or the other needs to be at fault to obtain a divorce. In short, the answer is no – you don’t have to prove who is at fault in order to obtain a divorce. Pennsylvania law provides two separate grounds for a no-fault divorce: you can obtain a divorce with the consent of your spouse under Section 3301(c)(1) of the Divorce Code, or after you have been separated for a set period of time pursuant to Section 3301(d) of the Divorce Code.
In a 3301(c)(1) divorce, both parties agree that the divorce should move forward. After the initial divorce complaint is filed by one party and the other party has accepted service, there is a waiting period of 90 days. After that, the parties can sign waivers and affidavits, which will be filed with the court. Soon after that, if there are no issues of marital property or support, the court will issue a final divorce decree.
In a 3301(d) divorce, under current law the parties must be separated for at least one year in order to obtain a divorce. Therefore, it is necessary to confirm the date of separation to begin a 3301(d) divorce. The separation date is when the parties began living "separate and apart," which means they are either living in separate residences, or living separate lives within the same residence. After the required time has passed, either party may file a divorce complaint.
One important thing to know about a 3301(d) divorce it that the other party does not have to agree to the divorce. However, if during the process the other party decides not to oppose the divorce, they can agree to sign certain documents in order to obtain the divorce decree sooner.
There are several ways to streamline the divorce process so that it will not be necessary for either party to appear in court. For example, if the parties do not have marital property or any custody, child support, or spousal support claims, they do not have to appear in court during the divorce process. We also work with clients who must resolve property, custody, or support matters, but decide to address how they would like to handle these matters in a property settlement agreement. A trained mediator can help the parties develop an agreement and our office will finalize the property settlement agreement for incorporation into the final divorce decree.
Should you try to file your divorce papers yourself? Without a good lawyer, you might be missing legal issues that need to be resolved as part of the divorce action. When you meet with us, we will prepare and file all of the necessary paperwork and handle all fees and deadlines, so you will have a clear understanding of how the divorce process will work for you.
We will do the following:
Still have questions? Call Cynthia G. Mason, Esq. at 215-242-9000