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What are the grounds for divorce under Pennsylvania law?

Divorce is never an easy proposition. For people in Pennsylvania who have reached the end of the line in their marriage, taking that next step and moving forward with a divorce proceeding is complicated and emotionally wrenching. Given the inordinate challenges that people across the nation have faced in the past two years with health concerns, work issues, navigating kids’ remote learning and more, it is no surprise that more and more marriages have come undone. Statistically, divorce often spikes with the start of a new year, so that too is a factor for many as they try to make a fresh start. When planning a divorce, however, it is important to be aware of the law. That includes knowing the grounds for divorce.

While most people might simply say that they have had an irretrievable breakdown with their spouse and use that avenue to end the marriage, there are other reasons that can be cited when pursuing a case. For an irretrievable breakdown, the divorce can be granted if the allegation is made and the couple has lived separately for a minimum of one year.

Once the filing is made and the defendant does not deny the assertion or denies one or more aspects of the complaint but the court determines that the couple has in fact lived separately for one year and the marriage cannot be fixed, then the case can proceed. In some instances, the court will believe that there is a chance at reconciliation. If that is the case, the case can be continued for at least 90 days and up to 120 days. For agreeable parties, it can be extended to try and save the marriage. The couple will be obligated to take part in counseling. If the marriage cannot be salvaged after that, then the court will allow the divorce.

Couples can also divorce based on mutual consent. This is essentially both people admitting the marriage is over and irretrievably broken. They must wait 90 days after starting the case, but after that, the divorce can be granted.

Understanding a fault-based divorce

While some states do not use the fault-based system of divorce any longer, it remains an option in Pennsylvania law. The spouse who is deemed innocent or injured in the case can claim that the other spouse committed desertion and did not have cause to do so for at least one year. Adultery is a reason for a fault-based divorce. If there was cruelty and mistreatment that put the complaining spouse’s life and health in danger, this too is a fault-based reason for a divorce. Committing bigamy can be a justification for the divorce. A person being sentenced to prison for two or more years for a criminal act is cause for divorce. Finally, the complaining spouse’s condition being deemed intolerable is a cause for divorce.

Knowing the reality about divorce generally requires professional help

Often, people’s concept of divorce is limited to what they have seen on the internet and on television. That does not provide the full scope of a case and, in fact, it can confuse people as they consider their options. Knowing the law can ease the process and be beneficial with reaching a positive outcome.

Whether it is a fault-based divorce, a divorce based on mutual consent or one in which the marriage is irretrievably broken, having experienced assistance from the start can be helpful with reaching a positive outcome. This is true for people of any age and regardless of the issues they are facing in their divorce. Some cases are relatively agreeable and others are contentious. People might have substantial assets, limited assets, children and other considerations. For every conceivable issue, professional guidance can be key. Consulting with those who understand all types of family law cases can be essential from the beginning.