How fault impacts divorce

|August 22, 2019 | divorce

When you are thinking about ending your marriage, you may have concerns about how fault will factor into the divorce process. For example, are property division, spousal support and child custody impacted by infidelity?

In Pennsylvania, an individual can file for either a fault or no-fault divorce. You can file in the state if you or your spouse has lived here for at least six months.

No-fault divorce in PA

 With no-fault divorce, either spouse can request a divorce without giving a reason. The divorce papers simply state irreconcilable differences.

When both partners agree to a divorce, the court does not require a hearing. You receive a legal divorce after a 90-day waiting period from your filing date. If one spouse does not agree to the divorce, the couple must live separately for at least two years before receiving a legal divorce.

Fault-based divorce in PA

 When an individual requests a fault-based divorce, he or she can state the grounds for fault in the filing petition. Grounds may include:

  • Two or more years of imprisonment
  • Bigamy (your spouse already had another spouse when you married)
  • Domestic violence and/or cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Abandonment for at least one year

Even when the court grants a fault-based divorce, the judge will not consider fault when dividing property. He or she divides assets and debts fairly between the spouses regardless of adultery or other actions that led to the divorce.

However, fault can affect spousal support in a PA divorce. Some judges increase the amount of alimony awarded when the other party is at fault. If your spouse committed adultery, you must provide proof in court if you argue that he or she should not receive spousal support as a result. The court also considers the length of the marriage, each party’s ability to self-support, earnings, income and the standard of living set during the marriage.

Unlike a no-fault divorce, fault-based divorce does not require a waiting period. However, the parties will not receive a divorce until they have reached a legal agreement.

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