Main Differences Between Pennsylvania Fault-Based & No-Fault Divorce

Mother and father on the couch, child sitting between them

Nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce in the United States. With this information in mind, it isn’t surprising to hear spouses regularly research the intricacies of the divorce process in their state. Regrettably, understanding the details of a state’s divorce process isn’t easy, but our blog post can help! Today, we will talk about the main differences between Pennsylvania fault-based and no-fault divorce.

Differences Between Fault & No-Fault Divorce

Cause of Divorce

The main difference between fault and no-fault divorce is the stated legal reason for the divorce. In a no-fault divorce, neither party is identifying a specific legal cause for the divorce. Therefore, if two spouses fall out of love with one another without a specific fault-based cause, they can file a no-fault divorce. Anyone can file for a no-fault divorce if they fulfill the residential requirements of Pennsylvania.

In a fault-based divorce, an “innocent and injured” spouse files for divorce with a stated legal cause. A spouse can only file a fault-based divorce if their spouse wronged them, so not everyone can file for a fault-based divorce.

Reasons for filing a Pennsylvania fault-based divorce include:

  • Committed willful and malicious desertion with an absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse for more than one year;
  • Committed adultery;
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment that endangers the life or health of the innocent spouse;
  • Getting married when already married;
  • Sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years.

Outcome of Divorce

In a no-fault divorce, a judge will try to separate the couple’s property evenly between the two parties. Additionally, the judge will award child custody, child support, and alimony in a way that’s fair to both parties. However, a judge’s rulings are different in a fault-based divorce.

In a fault-based divorce, a Pennsylvania judge will listen to both sides of the story before determining the outcome of the divorce. After deciding the story merits a fault-based divorce, the judge will grant the innocent and injured spouse a favorable divorce outcome over the guilty spouse. Therefore, innocent and injured spouses can receive more alimony, child support, property, and favorable child custody orders that they wouldn’t get in a no-fault divorce.

As previously stated, there are critical differences between fault-based and no-fault divorces in Pennsylvania. If you are interested in learning more about fault-based and no-fault divorce, you should talk to an experienced family law attorney.

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