On October 4, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law Act 102, which has major implications upon divorces in Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, there are two general grounds to establish a divorce: fault and no-fault. Fault divorce can be secured on various grounds, such as by demonstrating that your spouse has committed indignities in the marriage. Examples of indignities are abuse, neglect, abandonment and extramarital affairs. Securing a divorce on fault grounds is costly, both time-wise and monetarily.
Alternatively, under present law, a no-fault divorce can be secured by either demonstrating that both spouses consent to the divorce or after waiting two-years from the date of separation. A consent divorce can be obtained after both parties wait 90 days from the filing and service of the Divorce Complaint. Once 90 days pass, both parties may file the necessary documents with their respective County Court, and generally, the Court will grant the divorce.
Under current law, if one spouse does not wish to consent to the divorce, the other spouse would have to wait two years from the date of separation, before obtaining a divorce. For example, if you separated from your spouse June 1, 2016, and your spouse did not wish to consent to a divorce, you would have to wait until June 1, 2018 before obtaining a no-fault divorce.
However, Act 102 reduces the two-year date of separation period to one-year. This law only applies to those divorces where separation has occurred after the effective date of the law. Therefore, only those separations occurring after December 3, 2016 can take advantage of the new one year date of separation requirement.
Despite the reduction in wait time, it is always important to settle any economic issues each spouse may have against the other prior to finalizing their divorce. This means that all questions as to division of marital assets and liabilities (equitable distribution), alimony, and responsibility for counsel fees must be determined before getting a divorce. If these economic issues are not resolved, prior to obtaining a divorce, each spouse’s right to claim them are extinguished.
Divorce is an arduous episode in any person’s life. Therefore, it is imperative that you seek effective counsel before and during this process. We, at Fries Law Office, have multiple years’ experience in representing clients in divorce matters, including the protection of your economic interests.
Do not hesitate to contact us.