In the past, even if one party was not contesting the divorce, they could delay it by refusing to cooperate. Now, in Pennsylvania, that time period is shortened to one year.
Pennsylvania Divorce Code Amended
Pennsylvania’s Divorce Code was recently amended to shorten the required waiting time for non-consensual no-fault divorces. Previously, if you were seeking a “no-fault divorce,” and if your spouse did not agree to get divorced, you and your spouse had to live separate and apart for two years before the divorce could be granted. With the new law that became effective on December 5, 2016, the two-year waiting period was shortened to one year. All cases filed after that date are subject to the shorter waiting period under the new law.
Why the Change?
State Representative Tarah Toohil sponsored the Bill to make the amendment. She said that the primary goal of the amendment was to create a less traumatic experience for children that are caught in the middle of a divorce. She argued that reducing the mandatory waiting period would lead dissolving families to have the entire process completed faster, resulting in a more stable environment for the children.
Secondarily, and perhaps most importantly for families without children, Toohil argued that the reduced waiting period would create an opportunity for the parties to work through their divorce quicker, which will ultimately lead to a less costly divorce. Many surrounding states have waiting periods for no fault divorces ranging from six months to one year, which is considerably shorter than Pennsylvania’s waiting period. Read more from Toohil here. The amendment was also backed by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
The bill was first approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in November 2015 and was later signed into law in the fall of 2016.
What Hasn’t Changed?
The Amendment does not impact consensual no-fault divorces. If you and your spouse both agree to get divorced, the divorce can be finalized a minimum of ninety (90) days after date of service of the complaint. In those cases, you do not need to be separated for a year before the divorce can be finalized.
Similarly, the amendment does not impact a spouse’s opportunity to pursue a fault-based divorce. For most litigants, fault divorces are more expensive and involve unnecessary litigation, but there are certain cases where a fault-based approach is appropriate.
Finally, there is still no such thing as filing for “legal separation” in Pennsylvania. Spouses are considered “separated” when they are living “separate and apart.”
Seeking a No Fault Divorce? Contact Us, Today.
If you are in Central Pennsylvania and are considering a no fault divorce, contact us for help. We have substantial experience helping our clients obtain no fault divorces as quickly and amicably as possible.