Breaking News:   Divorces in PA May Soon Require 1 Year Separation Instead of 2

Decreased Waiting Period for Divorces in Pennsylvania

waiting period for divorce in PA

The time period required to wait for a divorce is likely to soon decrease from two years to one.

One of the first questions we are asked when a client comes to us seeking a divorce is, “how long will I have to wait?” The answer always depends on the type of divorce as well as whether either party refuses to cooperate.

Time Period Depends on Cooperation

For a mutual consent no-fault divorce, the waiting period is 90 days after the divorce complaint is served. But when one party refuses to cooperate, the waiting period for a no-fault was two years. Recently though, Pennsylvania decided to lessen that waiting period to one year. This change has not yet been signed into law.  Obviously, this is good news if one party refuses to cooperate, since a divorce may now be granted in half the time.

Why a Waiting Period?

You may wonder why Pennsylvania has a waiting period for divorces at all? The answer is that there are times when spouses may choose to reconcile after having a period to cool off. In the case of an agreed-upon divorce, it makes sense to move quickly, hence the 90 days. But when one party does not desire a divorce, the view is that it is better to allow the parties a longer time period to consider reconciliation.  The current and proposed law provides the waiting period only after which can a spouse begin the process to divide assets, unless the parties otherwise agree.

Why a Shorter Waiting Period?

Many family law attorneys have sought a shorter waiting period in Pennsylvania for many years. Why is this the case?

  • A two-year period is quite long, as compared to many other states which have periods as short as six months. One year is still enough time to consider reconciliation, if the parties desire to do so.
  • In cases involving abuse, it is unfair to require the abused party to stay in a marriage. And yet, abusers will frequently refuse to grant a divorce, often as a method of control. Decreasing the time period balances legitimate efforts to reconcile, while providing a shortened time period for those who are victims to move on with their lives.
  • Divorce has a great impact on the children. The sooner the divorce is finalized and all custody matters are set, the easier it will be for children to find themselves in a set schedule and a place of predictability. A long divorce period simply continues the uncertainty the children may be feeling.
  • The longer the time-period, especially with a difficult spouse, the more time for that spouse to file motions and cause problems for the spouse who wants the divorce finalized. This simply causes more expense for all parties involved.

In the end, the purpose for a shorter waiting period is to prevent one party in a marriage which cannot be saved, regardless of how long the parties wait, from holding up the divorce longer than is reasonably necessary. The Pennsylvania legislature and Governor recognized this fact in passing the change to the law.

Seeking a Divorce?

If you are seeking a divorce or have questions about the new, shortened time-period for divorces, feel free to reach out to Hoffmeyer & Semmelman, today. We have three experienced divorce lawyers on staff to meet your needs.

 

Reviewed by: James G. Keenan, Esquire

© Copyright by Hoffmeyer & Semmelman LLP, September 2016