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Pennsylvania Divorce Laws

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Pennsylvania Divorce Laws

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:

No spouse is entitled to commence an action for divorce or annulment under this part unless at least one of the parties has been a bona fide resident in this Commonwealth for at least six months immediately previous to the commencement of the action. A proceeding for divorce or annulment may be brought in the county where the defendant resides, or if the defendant resides outside of this Commonwealth, where the plaintiff resides. [Based on Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes - Title 23 - Section: 3104]

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:
  • Mutual Consent. The court may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action under this part and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce.

  • Irretrievable Breakdown. The court may grant a divorce where a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken and an affidavit has been filed alleging that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

  • Fault. The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has: (a) Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years. (b) Committed adultery. (c) By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse. (d) Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting. (e) Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime. (f) Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome.

  • Institutionalization The court may grant a divorce from a spouse upon the ground that insanity or serious mental disorder has resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of an action under this part and where there is no reasonable prospect that the spouse will be discharged from inpatient care during the 18 months subsequent to the commencement of the action. [Based on Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes - Title 23 - Section: 3301]

MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:

The court may, upon the commencement of an action under this part, notify both parties of the availability of counseling and, upon request, provide both parties a list of qualified professionals who provide such services. The court may require the parents to attend counseling sessions and may consider the recommendations of the counselors prior to awarding sole or shared custody. [Based on Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes - Title 23 - Sections: 3302 and 5305]

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION:

In an action for divorce or annulment, the court shall, upon request of either party, equitably divide, distribute or assign, in kind or otherwise, the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct in such proportions and in such manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors, including:

  • The length of the marriage.
  • Any prior marriage of either party
  • The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties.
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
  • The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
  • The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
  • The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker.
  • The value of the property set apart to each party.
  • The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
  • The economic circumstances of each party, including Federal, State and local tax ramifications, at the time the division of property is to become effective.
  • Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.

All real or personal property acquired by either party during the marriage is presumed to be marital property regardless of whether title is held individually or by the parties in some form of co-ownership such as joint tenancy, tenancy in common or tenancy by the entirety. [Based on Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes - Title 23 - Sections: 3501 & 3502]

ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT:

Where a divorce decree has been entered, the court may allow alimony, as it deems reasonable, to either party only if it finds that alimony is necessary. In determining whether alimony is necessary and in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

  • The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
  • The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
  • The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
  • The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
  • The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
  • The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
  • The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
  • The property brought to the marriage by either party.
  • The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
  • The relative needs of the parties.
  • The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage.
  • The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
  • Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for the party's reasonable needs.
  • Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.

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