The Pennsylvania Senate has voted by a margin of 43-2 in favor of a bill which shortens the waiting period in contested no-fault divorces from a two year waiting period to a one year waiting period. The bill is expected to be signed by Governor Wolf and will go into effect in 60 days.
The new law will apply only to those cases first filed after the effective date of the bill. This development represents a major change in the divorce code since the modern version of the no-fault divorce act was amended in the 1980s.
Like many states, Pennsylvania allows couples to obtain a "no-fault" divorce. Under the statue, couples are permitted to consent to a divorce 90 days after the initial paperwork is filed and served upon the other spouse. In cases where one spouse will not consent, the current law forces the filing spouse to wait two years from the date of separation before that spouse can force the matter to a conclusion and obtain a divorce decree. That two year period is often used as a sword rather than a shield by the non-consenting spouse. There have been cases where the non-consenting spouse manipulates the waiting period in order to obtain a leg-up financially by collecting spousal support or using marital assets that might otherwise be split up by the court.
Weber Gallagher Family Law Attorneys litigate all aspects of family law matters in courts in West Chester, Media, Norristown, Doylestown and Philadelphia.
Sara L. De Long