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.