The Acceptable Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania

Black and Davison

Grounds for Divorce

Under the laws of Pennsylvania, as in all other states, you can file for a “no-fault” divorce. This can be a little misleading, suggesting that you don’t have to provide any reason for legally ending your marriage. To the contrary, you must still indicate the basis for seeking a divorce—no-fault simply means you don’t have to allocate blame for the collapse of the marriage.

Grounds for a No-Fault Divorce

When neither party is technically at fault, you need only tell the court that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the bonds of marriage. A no-fault divorce may be by mutual consent, where both parties to the marriage agree that the marriage is over, or it may be unilateral, where one party files the petition and the other does not object. With a no-fault divorce by mutual consent, you need only wait 90 days for the divorce to become final. With a unilateral no-fault divorce, you must show that you have not cohabitated for 1 year and that the marriage cannot be fixed.

Grounds for an At-Fault Divorce

There’s no requirement that you allocate blame for the end of the marriage, but doing so can give you an advantage in your divorce proceedings. The permissible grounds for at-fault divorce in Pennsylvania include:

  • Marital infidelity or adultery
  • Bigamy
  • Domestic abuse, violence or cruelty, including mental abuse
  • Humiliation of a spouse, making the marriage no longer tenable
  • Abandonment of the relationship for at least one year
  • Conviction and imprisonment for a period of two or more years

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