New Law Shortens Pennsylvania Divorce Waiting Period
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is expected to sign legislation that would shorten the length of time a married couple must live separately before a divorce can be granted.
House Bill 380, signed by both the Pennsylvania Senate the House of Representatives on September 27, allows the courts to grant a divorce to couples when a spouse files a complaint alleging the divorce is irretrievably broken and an affidavit alleging that both parties have lived apart for one year.
For the divorce to be granted the defendant must not deny any allegations in the affidavit. However, if one more allegations are denied, the court can still grant the divorce if they have been living separately for at least one year and the court determines the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Pennsylvania divorce laws enacted in 1980 created grounds for “no-fault” divorce and decreed that couples that mutually consented could be divorced within three months, reported Lancaster Online. It also declared a two-year waiting period for divorces in which one party does not consent. House Bill 380 shortened that period to one year.
“The two-year waiting period that is currently the law can be emotionally devastating for children. Even the best parents” can lose track of “the welfare of their children when going through a contentious divorce,” said state representative, Tarah Toohil,( R-Luzerne County), and sponsor of the bill.
The bill was presented to PA House of Representatives in February 2015 and passed by the House in November 2015. It made its way to the House of Representatives that same month and side by both judicial branches in September 2016. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.
House Bill 380 also provides that the court may enter a decree of divorce or annulment prior to final determination of matters provided for in the decree if the court determines that doing so provides sufficient economic protection to any minor children of the marriage with the consent of both parties.
Earlier this year, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 12 to ease the divorce process for victims of domestic violence.
Contact a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer to learn more about the Pennsylvania divorce process and requirements.