Pennsylvania is a no-fault divorce state which means that spouses can get a divorce without alleging fault on the part of the other spouse. (There are still fault provisions such as adultery and indignities.) Under the Divorce Code, there are 2 ways to get a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania. If both parties consent, a divorce complaint is file and served on the defendant (the non-filing spouse). The parties wait 90 days from the date of service of the Complaint, sign forms consenting to the divorce and then what we call “grounds for divorce” are established. (This is sometimes referred to as a 3301C divorce.) This generally means that the parties have met requirements for the entry of the divorce code. (To be clear, though, this does not mean that you are entitled to have a divorce decree entered. Generally, any financial issues such as dividing up property, must be resolved before the decree can be entered.)
If the non-filing spouse does not consent to the divorce, the divorcing spouse can still get a divorce, but must wait until two years after the parties have separated, We do not have legal separation – i.e., filing a document with the court saying that you are separated, in PA. Date of separation is a factual determination. However, under the Divorce Code, the date of separation will be, at the latest, the date the divorce complaint is filed. This is sometimes referred to as a 3301D divorce. To get a divorce based on 2 year separation, at the end of the 2 years, the divorcing spouse must file an affidavit stating (1) that the parties have been separated for more than 2 years and (2) that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The non-filing spouse has the right to file a Counter-Affidavit opposing the divorce on the basis that there has not been a 2 year separation or that the marriage is not irretrievably broken. If a Counter-Affidavit is filed, then the Court will hold a hearing to determine if there are grounds for divorce.
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