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Divorce Laws in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania courts may order couples to attend an orientation session which explains the mediation process. If after attending the session, they choose to enter mediation, the court may choose which issues must be addressed during mediation.

The court cannot order the orientation session or mediation for in cases where child abuse or domestic violence has occurred during the last two years.

The court may impose a lien on the property of either spouse if necessary to ensure any payments ordered in the divorce decree.

Residency and jurisdiction in Pennsylvania
At least one spouse must live in Pennsylvania for at least six months before filing. Divorce can be filed in the county where either spouse lives.

Fault or no fault and ground for divorce in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania grants fault and no fault divorce. No fault divorce may be filed on the following grounds:

  • Mutual consent, if the couple agrees that the marriage is irretrievably broken divorce will be granted after the 90-day waiting period
  • Irretrievable breakdown, if one spouse claims that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the couple has been separated for at least two years.

Acceptable grounds for fault are as follows:

  • Desertion for at least one year
  • Adultery
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment
  • Knowingly entering a bigamous marriage
  • Prison sentence of two years or more
  • Treatment which creates intolerable conditions

Division of property in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is an "equitable distribution" State meaning the property is not divided 50/50, but rather in a manner that the court deems fair to both spouses. When dividing property the court must consider:

  • Length of marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Any prior marriages
  • Age and health
  • Station and sources of income
  • Vocational skills and employability
  • Debts and needs
  • Contribution to the education and earning capacity of the other spouse
  • Potential for future acquisition of assets and future income
  • Sources of income including retirement, medical, and insurance benefits
  • Contributions, up or down, to marital property, including contribution as a homemaker
  • Value of the property
  • Economic circumstance of each spouse
  • Tax consequences
  • Child custody

The court may order that any existing life or health insurance policy be maintained or that a life or health insurance policy be purchased.

Spousal support in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania allows spousal support, but only when the court find it necessary. Whether the court denies or awards spousal support it must state the reasons for its decision. Factors which the court must consider when determining spousal support include:

  • Length of marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Earning capacity
  • Age
  • Sources of income including medical, retirement, and insurance benefits
  • Inheritance
  • Contributions to the education or earning capacity of the other spouse
  • Effect of child custody on earning capacity, expenses, and financial obligations
  • Current education and the time and expense required to become self supporting
  • Assets, needs and debts
  • Property brought to the marriage
  • Contribution as a homemaker
  • Needs
  • Marital misconduct
  • Property including property awarded in property division
  • Ability to be or become self supporting
  • Tax consequences

Remarriage of the supported spouse will terminate spousal support.

Child custody and support in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania courts may award sole or shared child custody. When determining custody, the courts must consider many factors including:

  • Which parent if more likely to permit and encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Violent or abusive behavior of each parent and any adult household members

Pennsylvania uses the Income Shares Model for calculating child support.

If you are considering or facing divorce in Pennsylvania, contact an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney today.

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Disclaimer: Divorce law information contained throughout this page is intended to generally inform you about divorce law in Pennsylvania and introduce you to divorce lawyers throughout the U.S. The information regarding divorce and divorce law is not meant to be taken as legal advice. If you like to speak with an experienced divorce attorney, click on the link to your state to find an experienced divorce lawyer in your area for an initial consultation.
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