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Waiting Period for Separation Divorce in Pennsylvania is Now Only One Year.

Waiting Period for Separation Divorce in Pennsylvania is Now Only One Year.

Date : December 1st, 2016

Posted By : admin

On October 4, 2016 Governor Tom Wolf signed into law new legislation will shorten the length of time a married couple must live separately before a divorce can be granted. Effective December 4, 2016, the waiting period is reduced from two years to just one (1) year of waiting time. This new law will allow the Pennsylvania courts to grant a divorce to couples when a spouse files a complaint alleging the divorce is irretrievably broken and an affidavit alleging that both parties have lived apart for one year. It’s very important to keep in mind that this change to the PA divorce law will apply to a separation divorce that began after the date in which this new law takes effective (December 4, 2016.) In other words, the law is not retroactive. All cases filed on or after December 4, 2016 will be subject to the new law. Any divorce case filed before December 4, 2016 will be subject to the prior waiting period of two-years.


-If the period of separation from your spouse began on or after Dec. 5, 2016 you will need to be living separate and apart from your spouse for a period of ONE YEAR, before filing your complaint in divorce.

-If the period of separation from your spouse began before Dec. 5, 2016, you are required to be living separate and apart from your spouse for a period of TWO YEARS, before filing your complaint in divorce.


This type of divorce is know as a separation divorce and is based on section 3301(d) of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code. This divorce can be used by a plaintiff where the parties (the wife and husband) have been separated as husband and wife for at least one years. Let me be clear about what exactly is meant by “separation.” This “separation” does not mean physical separation although that can be the way to measure the one year period. There are couples that have separated as “husband and wife” but are still living together for economic reasons. This form of “separation” divorce would be available to them.


The benefit of this type of divorce is evident when both parties are going to fully cooperate in the divorce process. When there is full cooperation, the divorce can be done in about 45 to 60 days depending on how fast the court issues the divorce decree. Just as in the mutual consent divorce, this is a no-fault PA divorce and this type of divorce complaint also does not list any reason or cause for the divorce other than that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Again, the process for this type of divorce starts with the filing of the divorce complaint with the court. Then the divorce complaint is served on the Defendant. In order to take advantage at the speed available through this type of divorce, the Defendant then signs two documents and returns them to they lawyer. Once the lawyer has these two documents, the divorce can then be sent to the court with all of the other required documents and the court is asked to enter the divorce decree. That is basically the process. It is the fastest way to get a divorce in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Generally, a divorce can be filed in any county in Pennsylvania. It does not have to be filed in a County of residence except in certain cases.


The PA separation divorce can still be used by a plaintiff where he or she has been separated from their spouse for one year or more but the other party is not going to cooperate or sign any papers. In this case, a separation divorce MUST be done in the Pennsylvania County of residence of the Plaintiff or the Defendant. As explained above, the case is filed with the court. It is then served on the spouse by certified mail or personal service. Then, after a few weeks, the spouse is sent some documents required by the divorce code to be sent to the defendant. These documents advise the defendant that they have a few weeks to file any objections to the divorce or to raise any claims or else the request for divorce is going to be granted. If the Defendant then does not file either, the lawyer can send a package of required documents to the court asking for the divorce decree. If everything goes as planned, the entire process in this case usually takes about 2 1/2 to 3 months. If you would like to have me help you with your divorce, call my office for a free consultation today.

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