Getting a divorce in Pennsylvania requires meeting certain criteria. To begin the process, one or both spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months. The person filing for divorce (the plaintiff) must provide the court with a legal reason for ending the marriage. After filing the divorce papers and sending copies to the spouse, the court will make a decision and enter a judgment of divorce.
In addition to meeting the residency requirements, the plaintiff must also provide grounds for the divorce. Under Pennsylvania's no-fault divorce statute, it is not necessary to show fault such as adultery, mental cruelty, or physical abuse. The plaintiff must file a Divorce Demand Form with the court. This form is the actual request for the divorce to be recorded in court.
After filing the application, couples can complete their divorce either by hiring opposing lawyers or through divorce mediation if both parties agree. If a no-fault divorce is sought, the defendant can prevent it from being granted by proving that the parties have not lived separately for at least one year or that the marriage has not irretrievably broken down. If a fault-based divorce is sought and the defendant proves that the plaintiff is not innocent or injured, or that the facts alleged by the plaintiff are not true, then a divorce cannot be granted. When filing for divorce, spouses may need to attach a legally binding marriage agreement to their filing in county court.
A person seeking alimony must file for alimony as part of their divorce lawsuit before it is finalized. The same applies to dividing marital assets. Divorce will also be granted when the defendant has been in a psychiatric institution for a serious mental problem for at least 18 months before and after initiating the divorce.If you are considering getting a divorce in Pennsylvania, it is important to consult with a local divorce lawyer as soon as possible to understand your legal options. Appropriate forms and information on how to get a divorce can be found on the Pennsylvania Courts Divorce website.