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Fault Vs. No-Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania allows you to file for fault or no-fault divorce. But what’s the difference? The law has specific statutes that must be analyzed carefully before you make this decision. That’s why you need an experienced divorce lawyer to handle the legal intricacies of your case.

Susan Gibson has almost 15 years of experience in family law here in Pennsylvania. Call Gibson Family Law, PLLC at (267) 682-8200 or fill out our contact form for guidance on your divorce.

What is a Fault-Based Divorce?

You can file for a fault-based divorce if your spouse’s actions are the direct reason you’re seeking a divorce. If your spouse has been unfaithful, violent, or absent, a fault-based divorce could be right for you.

What are Grounds for a Fault Divorce?

Title 23 in Pennsylvania law outlines the following grounds for a fault divorce. You can file for a fault-based divorce if your spouse:

  • Committed adultery.
  • Committed “malicious desertion” without cause for one or more years.
  • Endangered your life or health “by cruel or barbarous treatment.”
  • Knowingly and willfully committed bigotry.
  • Committed “indignities” to you that made your day-to-day “condition intolerable and life burdensome.”

To file for divorce under one of these grounds, you may have to provide evidence or proof to the court about the intolerable conditions of your marriage. It’s also likely that your spouse will dispute these grounds or refuse to cooperate with the divorce process.

What is a No-Fault Divorce?

Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, meaning married couples can file for a divorce without proving fault on the part of either spouse. You can file for a divorce because you and your spouse have agreed that your relationship is irreparably broken, and you no longer wish to be married.

What are the Requirements for a No-Fault Divorce?

You can file for a no-fault divorce here in Bucks County under one of two types: mutual consent or a one-year separation.

Mutual Consent is a no-fault divorce in which you and your spouse agree to end your marriage 90 days after the date the divorce complaint is filed.  The divorce does not happen automatically after those 90 days, but it allows the parties to ask for a final decree once all of the property issues have been resolved by agreement or through the court process.

A one-year separation is a no-fault divorce that occurs after you and your spouse have been separated for one-year.  Separation in Pennsylvania does not require spouses to be living in separate homes.  The assumed date of separation is the sooner date of the parties living in separate homes or the date the divorce complaint is filed.  There are ways to prove earlier dates of separation under certain circumstances, and Susan has the knowledge and expertise to help guide you on when and how to pursue a case when there is a dispute regarding date of separation.

No-Fault Vs. Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce differs from a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania because an uncontested divorce requires three things: state residency, agreement between you and your spouse about the grounds for your divorce, and agreement on the issues in your divorce.

An uncontested divorce would require you and your spouse to agree to all conditions of the divorce, including variables like child custody, child support, and alimony, before submitting your divorce request to the court.

In a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse do not need to have already agreed upon these variables and may contest the conditions in court. A no-fault divorce requires you to agree upon, or establish, the grounds of your divorce, not necessarily all the conditions. 

Contact a Bucks County Divorce Lawyer Today

When you’re ready to end your marriage here in Bucks County, you need a strong divorce lawyer like Susan Gibson to help protect your best interests. Contact us at (267) 337-6524 to inquire about an appointment at our convenient Doylestown office.

Divorce

Divorce looks different for everyone, depending on their circumstances. Pennsylvania is a no-fault state for divorce, and the process can get complicated. However, your family law attorney informs you of Pennsylvania divorce requirements and helps you file the necessary paperwork.

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Equitable Distribution

Pennsylvania law determines the division of property based on what’s equitable, not equal. The court’s goal is to put both parties in almost the same position they would be if they remained married. Your attorney will evaluate your assets, highlight any issues, and assess all available arguments in your case.

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Child Custody

Many parents have varying degrees of shared physical custody of their children, and much goes into the final decision. In Bucks County's Court Conciliation and Evaluation Services program, an evaluator will talk to parents, children, and other relatives to give the court information on both parties to resolve any child custody disputes.

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Child Support

With adequate information, your attorney advocates for your position so that the Court can determine the amount you can expect to pay in child support. Cooperation and transparency are key to achieving a desirable outcome. If things change in the future, your child support may be modified.

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Spousal Support / APL

Like child support, spousal support is driven by income and earning capacity. For complex income situations, your family law attorney works with and collaborates with forensic accountants to determine net income available for support.

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Prenuptial Agreements

Although newlyweds don’t consider the possibility of divorce, a prenuptial agreement determines what happens to your assets if one occurs. Your attorney can establish a plan if you and your spouse divorce to ensure your future is secure.

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Postnuptial Agreements

Like prenuptial agreements, a postnuptial agreement sets forth what will happen to you and your spouse’s assets after a divorce. The difference is that a postnuptial agreement occurs after you’re already married.

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LGBTQ Divorce

Like any divorce, same-sex couples must endure a similar process when they wish to end their marriage. However, there could be unique factors that could come up in your case. Let a family law attorney listen to your story and provide a smooth divorce process.

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Cohabitation Agreements

Some couples may decide they don't want to get married but will want to find ways to protect their financial interests if they move in with their significant other. Getting help with a cohabitation agreement can save time and money before an issue arises.

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