While Pennsylvanians divorce rate is one of the lowest in the nation, it can still rock the family foundation when it does occur. There is a myriad of reasons as to why a married couple goes for divorce—infidelity, lack of money management, and the absence of communication are the three most common reasons as to why a marriage breaks up.
Regardless of the reason, divorce is a convoluted process that can be draining to a situation that is already taxing. Discussed are some of the Pennsylvania divorce laws that you should be cognizant of.
Pennsylvania Divorce Laws You Need to Know
If you live in the state of Pennsylvania, there are a litany of laws and mandates that you need to know—from child support to retirement plans and the division of assets, divorce can be a muddied process. Let’s start with eligibility.
Who is Eligible for Divorce in Pennsylvania?
To file for divorce in Pennsylvania, one of the two spouses needs to live in Pennsylvania for at least six months. The person who is filing for divorce needs to do so in the county where either person lives. Residency is legally defined in Pennsylvania as a person physically residing in a location and having the intentions of living there for an extended period.
The Basis of the Divorce Matters to the Judge
There are two types of divorce: no-fault divorces and fault divorces. In a fault divorce, one spouse alleges that the other is to blame for the deterioration of the relationship and has sparked divorce proceedings due to their behavior or lack thereof. On the contrary, in a no-fault divorce, both individuals amicably agree that the separation is best due to the marriage falling apart.
For no-fault divorces, insanity and mental disorders that leave one spouse confined to an asylum or institution for one year and six months with no viable chance for release, is grounds for a no-fault divorce. Mutual consent, an allegation that one spouse has lived separately with an affidavit confirming that, are also grounds for a no-fault divorce.
A fault divorce includes being deserted, adultery, cruel and mistreatment, or circumstances were the life of the other partner has become intolerable.
Splitting up Assets
Property that was acquired during the marriage is subject to division by the divorce process. However, there are a few exceptions, like property acquired before the wedding, gifts, inheritance money, and veteran benefits. Eligible assets will be divided on an equal basis. But keep in mind that this does not mean that the court will split the property between two spouses.
The judge will split up the property in a way that will be viewed as fair in their eyes—and, in reality, how these assets are divided may not be fair from your perspective. The judge will factor in the substance and length of the marriage, the age, and health of each person involved in the divorce, children, income levels, contribution to the marriage, and standards of living.
About Alimony and Support
The court may allow appropriate alimony to either party if it is deemed necessary by the court system. The court system will consider relative earnings, the emotional condition of the parties involved, the duration of the marriage, and contributions. Keep in mind that Pennsylvania courts may also impose a charge upon property of a party as collateral for the payment of alimony. Additionally, alimony packages can be modified or terminated if circumstances drastically change for either party.
If you need guidance during this tumultuous time, contact Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C. Specializing in divorce court proceedings in the state of Pennsylvania, they focus on ensuring an equitable and streamlined divorce process.