Nov 152016

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.

May 132016

On April 21, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill No. 12 (2015 Session). This law provides a spouse, who is a victim of a personal injury crime committed by the other spouse, an easier route to obtain a divorce.

Under the existing provisions of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code, one spouse cannot obtain a no-fault divorce from his/her spouse unless both parties consent after a ninety (90) day waiting period or, if one spouse does not consent, following a two year separation. Under existing law, if a spouse physically abuses the other and does not wish to consent to a divorce, a victim spouse may be incapable of divorcing his/her aggressor spouse until two years passes. However, this new law provides a way of escape.

Under the new law, an aggressor spouse’s consent is “presumed where that party has been convicted of committing a personal injury crime against the other party.” (Rev. 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301(c)(2)). A personal injury crime may include assault or sexual offenses. The new law also forbids a Court from requiring a victim spouse to attend mandatory counseling when he/she has a protection from abuse order against his/her spouse or when said spouse is the victim of a personal injury crime.

This law becomes effective on June 11, 2016, and permits abused spouses who are victims of a personal injury crime, committed by their spouse, to obtain a divorce without the consent of the abusing spouse, or without having to await a two year separation.

If you are a victim of physical spousal abuse, you have the legal right to obtain protection. You should not only call the police, but you should also consult with an attorney.  The attorneys at Fries Law Office are experienced in family law and are ready to assist you in ceasing the marital ties between you and your abusive spouse. Protect yourself and contact us if you have questions concerning your rights as a victim spouse.