Grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania can either be no-fault or fault. Before you can file for divorce in Pennsylvania, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months. Then you must prove that there are grounds, or lawfully, acceptable reasons for a divorce.
If a divorce is by mutual consent and both parties sign Affidavits of Consent to it, the court will grant a divorce three months after the service of the complaint on the other party. If only one spouse wants a divorce and the parties have been separated for at least two years, a divorce may be granted if the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Both of these are no-fault grounds for divorce.
Before someone can obtain a fault divorce, two things must be proven. First, that he or she is "innocent and injured," or not at fault, and second, that misconduct by the other spouse has caused a breakdown of the marriage. Allowable grounds for fault divorce are specified by law, such as violence, bigamy, adultery, desertion, conviction of a crime or insanity.
A divorce action is like any other lawsuit. It beings with a complaint filed in court and served on the person against who it is filed. If you receive a divorce complaint, you will have 20 days to respond. If you do not respond, the divorce may proceed without you being represented or having your rights protected.
After a husband and wife separate, especially if they intend to divorce, it is desirable for them to enter into a written agreement to provide for:
Division of real estate and personal property
Support, if any, payable to the dependent spouse and children;
Responsibility for debts and legal fees; health and life insurance arrangements; and
Custody and visitation of children.
Also included are may other items which set forth the mutual rights and duties of the two people. This agreement is a contract, but may be enforced as though it is an order of the court. Certain provisions in the agreement concerning child custody, visitation, and child support can later be modified by the court if circumstances change. The agreement is written by the attorneys representing you and your spouse following negotiations.
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