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Pennsylvania Divorce Facts
When going through a divorce in in Pennsylvania, it's helpful to have some key information. Below you will find some of the most important facts everyone getting a divorce in the state of Pennsylvania should know. The facts listed here are only a selected few of the more comprehensive set of Pennsylvania Divorce Laws available for your reference. Remember, every state's law is different, and if you're not sure about a law in your state, you should ask a qualified Pennsylvania Divorce Professional.
To file for divorce in Pennsylvania, either spouse must have lived in the Commonwealth for at least six months.
Pennsylvania grants a no-fault divorce when both spouses agree to divorce and file an affidavit that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The court may grant a divorce 90 days after filing. If one spouse files an affidavit that the couple has lived apart for at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may grant a divorce based on those circumstances.
Pennsylvania grants a fault divorce if a spouse deserts without reasonable cause for one or more years, commits adultery, endangers the life of his or her partner or subjects a partner to cruel or barbarous treatment, was already married to someone else (bigamy) when he or she married, was sentenced to jail for longer than two years, or has made the conditions intolerable or life burdensome.
The court may decide to order both spouses to attend an orientation for mediation or counseling. Mediation may resolve issues outside of court. The court tells the parties what issues need to be addressed in the sessions (for example, child custody, child support or division of property). The court cannot order mediation if there have been any allegations of domestic violence or child abuse within the past two years.
If spouses cannot fairly divide the marital property, the court will divide it as fairly as possible. Marital fault is not a consideration in property division. Property acquired during the marriage is jointly owned regardless of title. The court considers the duration of the marriage, individual assets and potential for bringing in money, how much each contributed to the marital property, including homemaking, and who will have physical custody of the children.
Pennsylvania distributes marital property on an "equitable" basis, which means the court awards property in a manner it believes is fair, not necessarily on a 50-50 basis. The court considers numerous factors when it considers how to award divorce property, and it can also award alimony, generally called spousal support.
A couple can come to their own agreement about property settlement, which the court will generally accept.
The court will decide if either spouse is entitled to alimony, based on age, physical and mental condition, earning potential, duration of the marriage and standard of living. The court decides the duration of alimony, but support ends automatically if the one receiving it remarries or cohabitates.
Pennsylvania recognizes common law marriages (if united before January 1, 2005).
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