What Are Spouses Entitled to in a Divorce in Pennsylvania?

When it comes to divorce in Pennsylvania, the court will decide if and how much alimony should be paid, based on whether it is reasonable and necessary. The court must consider many factors, such as the parties' relative income and earning capacities, ages, and other expenses. In addition, the court will divide marital assets as part of the divorce lawsuit before the court finally grants the divorce. To get a divorce in Pennsylvania, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months immediately before filing the divorce case.

The plaintiff may have to wait up to a year before requesting that the court enter the judgment to finalize the divorce. The defendant can prevent the divorce from being granted by proving that the parties have not lived separate and apart for at least one year or that the marriage has not irretrievably broken down. In Pennsylvania, there are three categories of divorce: divorce by mutual consent, without consent, and fault. If a plaintiff seeks a no-fault divorce, either by consent or without consent, they can do so by proving one of the following grounds (reasons):

  • The defendant has been in a psychiatric institution for a serious mental problem for at least 18 months before the divorce is initiated, and is likely to remain in the institution for at least 18 months after the divorce has been initiated.
  • The defendant proves that the plaintiff is not innocent or injured, or that the facts alleged by the plaintiff are not true.
If you are involved in a divorce action, you should consider seeking custody, alimony, support, spousal property, counseling and attorney's fees before the divorce is finalized.

Appropriate forms and information on how to get a divorce can be found on the Pennsylvania Courts Divorce website. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania also has a legal glossary that you may find useful if you decide to obtain a divorce and information on how to represent yourself in a divorce.In general, it is important to remember that only marital property will be divided in Pennsylvania. If you want to keep an asset out of division, you'll need to show the court why it should be characterized as non-marital property.

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