Pennsylvania Divorce FAQ

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Divorce is a hard thing to go through. However, it may be the best thing for you and your spouse if your marriage is no longer sustainable. To make your divorce as painless and seamless as possible, you should get a better understanding of how the process works in Pennsylvania.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce?

You need not stay in a marriage that is dragging you down mentally, physically, and emotionally. The state of Pennsylvania makes it possible for people who made a mistake to get a second chance through a divorce. The laws also give people whose marriage must come to an end owing to unforeseen or tragic circumstances.

The grounds for divorce include:

  • Adultery

  • Abandonment for at least one year

  • Bigamy

  • Physical and mental cruelty and abuse

  • The felony conviction of your spouse

  • The imprisonment of your spouse for at least two years

  • Hospitalization of your spouse for a serious mental disorder for 18 months

  • Irreconcilable differences

What Are the Requirements for Divorce?

To get a divorce in Pennsylvania, you or your partner must have resided in the state for at least six months before the start of the proceedings.

The divorce process begins when one party files a complaint. If you are the person initiating the divorce, then you will need to go to Pennsylvania’s court system website to download the forms. Once you have completed the required pages, you should make two copies of them.

You will then need to hand-carry them to your local courthouse and present them to the office that handles all such filings. You will receive an official court stamp on your documents to verify that they have been accepted.

After you have filed your divorce papers with the state, you must then serve your spouse. You will have thirty days to do this if your spouse lives in the state and ninety days if they live outside of the state.

What Happens If Your Spouse Won’t Sign Divorce Papers?

If your spouse refuses to consent to the divorce, you must wait out a period of separation. You must live separate or apart from your spouse for a period of one year before filing a divorce complaint.

After this period has elapsed, you must file an affidavit stating that the required time has passed. This allows you to divorce your spouse after they have been notified and served. However. your spouse may still raise objections.

If this happens, the filing will go before a judge. The latter may enter a divorce decree twenty days after your spouse has been served. It is important to note, however, that a divorce cannot be obtained against a spouse who is unrepresented or serving in the military.

How Long Is the Divorce Process?

The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of your divorce. Here are the main factors that affect the timeline:

  • Whether you and your spouse have agreed to a no-fault divorce

  • Whether your spouse agrees to a mutual consent divorce after a 3-month waiting period

  • Whether your spouse has been hospitalized for mental illness

  • Whether your spouse consents to the divorce or is in the military

Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?

Yes. You should retain a divorce lawyer. Even if your case seems straightforward, you should get the insight and expertise of a legal professional. You must protect your parental rights and financial interests. Your lawyer will ensure that the final settlement allows you to parent your children and that it gives you the means to make a fresh start.

If you know that your divorce will be highly contentious, you should seek a Lackawanna County divorce lawyer before you do anything else. You may need to file numerous motions in the court to protect yourself and your children before the divorce proceedings even start.

The team at O’Malley Law Office will protect you and your family’s best interests. Call us today at (570) 284-3551 to set up a consultation.