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What is a Pennsylvania No-Fault Divorce?

What is a Pennsylvania No-Fault Divorce?

Date : December 8th, 2016

Posted By : admin

It can be legitimately argued that Ronald Reagan started the no-fault divorce trend in the United States. Yes, you read that right. On September 5, 1969 then Governor Ronald Reagan of California signed the first ever no-fault divorce laws in the country. While Oklahoma started the trend in 1953 by first allowing a divorce by one party without the consent of the other, it was Ronald Reagan’s Family Law Act of 1969 (which took effect in 1970) that had the rest of the nation take notice and slowly change the way divorce was done in most states around the country.


Before then, divorce was a blame game. Fault had to be proven by one party with testimony in open court before a judge could grant the divorce. Of course there were legitimate cases of “fault” presented to the courts, but the legal process became a farce because couples, who both wanted the divorce and agreed to it, would fake infidelity (the most common way to get a divorce), give false testimony (perjury) and in a desperate effort to convince a judge to grant them a divorce. This mockery of the legal system, which many judges and lawyers complained about, ended with the advent of the no-fault divorce.


Essentially, a no-fault divorce is where fault (adultery, abandonment, insanity, cruelty, imprisonment, undisclosed impotence) does not have to be proven to the court in order to get a divorce. You simply file the divorce complaint, comply with a few other requirements and the court would then issue the decree.


In Pennsylvania for example, in a no-fault divorce where the parties have been separated for one year or more and they both are cooperating in the process, I can file the divorce for my client, serve it on the spouse, send some additional papers three weeks later and get the spouse to sign two forms. I then ask the court to grant the divorce by filing a series of documents including the signed papers. Provided I prove to the court that my client’s spouse was served with the divorce complaint and participated in the process by signing a document, I can have my client divorce in about two months. Disputing and challenging the divorce typically is done when there is property to divide, or children’s issue to deal with such as custody or child support.


So, when does fault factor into a divorce? That’s my next topic.

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