Decided on divorce? – first steps to take

Before rushing into divorce, you should first take a deep breath and carefully consider all of the pros and cons that come along with the process. Although it is not legally required that you hire legal representation, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced attorney in your area who is familiar with the divorce process.

First, you must determine whether to file on either fault or no-fault grounds. Under the Pennsylvania Divorce Code, fault grounds may be granted where one spouse is guilty of severe misconduct including adultery, desertion, cruel and barbarous treatment, being sentenced to prison for two (2) or more years, and other harmful behavior. In addition, fault grounds may exist where one spouse has been committed to a mental institution for at least eighteen (18) months and will most likely not be discharged for at least eighteen (18) additional months. Fault grounds, however, are very rare due to the extreme amount of emotional stress created by the process. Moreover, most spouses decide to pursue a divorce based on no-fault grounds. The Pennsylvania Divorce Code provides that no-fault grounds may be granted in two situations. First, when 90 days have elapsed since the commencement of the action and the parties mutually consent to the divorce. Second, where the court finds that after a twenty-four (24) month separation there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In order to qualify for a divorce based on irretrievable breakdown, the parties must have been living separate and apart from each other for a minimum of two (2) years.

Once you have determined what grounds to file on, it would be wise to collect any and all relevant documentation, consult an attorney and initiate the proceeding in court by filing and serving the divorce complaint.

For additional information about Pennsylvania family law or the divorce process, or to discuss your particular situation and learn about your options, please schedule a confidential consultation with attorney Joanne Kleiner by calling us at 215-886-1266. Or, fill out our intake form and we will contact you. The decisions you make today really will affect your future. Let us help you make those decisions intelligent and informed.

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Montgomery County Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals