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Understanding Pennsylvania’s four grounds for divorce

In Pennsylvania, a couple must have an appropriate legal reason before getting a divorce. Acceptable legal reasons are called grounds for divorce, and Pennsylvania courts recognize four of them. If you think ending your marriage may be the right decision, you may want to consider what grounds for divorce are appropriate for your situation.

Fault

There are several situations that could be considered fault grounds for divorce. This means that if one spouse has taken one of several specific actions against the marriage, the other spouse may ask for a fault divorce.

Some of the actions that can warrant a fault divorce, include:

  • Intentionally and maliciously deserting a spouse for at least one year
  • Cheating on a spouse
  • Endangering the life or health of a spouse with cruel treatment
  • Intentionally entering a new marriage while still married to someone else
  • Being sentenced to prison for at least two years
  • Causing a spouse to live in intolerable conditions

Institutionalization

Another ground for divorce is institutionalization. Divorce on this ground will typically be granted if one spouse has been in a mental institution because of insanity or serious mental disorder. The spouse must have been in the mental institution for at least 18 months and must not be expected to leave for at least another 18 months before the other spouse can file for divorce.

Mutual consent

If both spouses agree to the divorce, mutual consent can serve as a ground for divorce. The court may only grant divorce on this ground after 90 or more days have passed since the divorce papers were filed and both spouses provides an affidavit showing consent for the divorce. Consent is presumed if a spouse has been convicted of committing a personal injury against the other spouse.

Irretrievable breakdown

Irretrievable breakdown of a marriage can also serve as a ground for divorce. Divorce may be granted on this ground if a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and an affidavit has been filed alleging that the spouses have lived apart for at least a year.

If you feel your marriage has come to an end, there are several grounds for divorce to choose from. Being familiar with the options available to you can help you make the best choice for your situation.

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940 South Queen Street
York, PA 17403

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