Pennsylvania is a mixed state regarding the grounds for divorce.  You can file for divorce in Pennsylvania using no-fault or fault grounds.  The no-fault grounds for divorce are on the application of either party, when husband and wife have without interruption for two years lived separate and apart.  Fault grounds for Pennsylvania divorce include:

  • Committed willful and malicious desertion and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years;
  • Committed adultery;
  • By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse;
  • Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting;
  • Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime;
  • Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.

Residency requirements for filing a divorce in Pennsylvania are that one of the parties must have resided in the state for six months or 180 days.

Custody of children in Pennsylvania divorces is determined by the best interest of the child standard.  The court assumes that it is in the best interest of the child to maintain contact with both parents.  Custody is usually given to the primary caregiver in cases involving young children; however, it is no longer true that the wife always gets custody of the children when they are older.  The Court may also require mediation where there are disputes as to custody to lessen the impact of the divorce on the children unless there is a history of domestic or child abuse.

Pennsylvania like every state in the union requires that both parents provide financial support for the child.  The court attempts to maintain the standard of living the child enjoyed during the marriage.  This is based on the notion that the child is the innocent party during a divorce and should not suffer because the parents can no longer maintain their relationship.  The amount is determined by a formula that calculates the earning potential of each spouse.

Pennsylvania is an equitable division state in determining the division of the marital estate.  At the time an action is filed the parties to the divorced are enjoined from disposing of any property without court consent until property division is decided.  All property obtained during the marriage regardless of how it is titled is considered part of the marital estate.  The judge divides the property in a way that is considered fair but not necessarily equal.


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