Family Law Firm Discusses Changes Surrounding the Waiting Period for a Unilateral Divorce and Proposed Reduction from Two Years to One Year
Vetrano|Vetrano & Feinman LLC is a family law firm based in King of Prussia and is proud to say they are at the forefront of the latest legal developments and potential changes to the law. The Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Family Law Section created a Task Force to recommend legislation that would reduce the waiting period for a unilateral, no-fault divorce from two years to one. The impetus for the Task Force was the realization that longer, drawn out divorces can have a severely negative effect on families, especially on children whose parents are separating. Although the legislative process has been slow, much progress has been made over the last year, and House Bill 380 is now being considered by the Pennsylvania Senate.
Currently in Pennsylvania, if one spouse does not consent to the divorce, the other spouse must wait two years from the date of separation to finalize the divorce, and in some counties the parties cannot even begin the process of having the court help them with the division of property until that two-year period has elapsed. Therefore, the divorce process often ends up taking even longer than two years. Needless to say, during those two years there can be much tension and animosity between separating spouses, and that negativity all too often impacts the children who are caught in the middle. Thus, House Bill 380 revises part of the Divorce Code regarding grounds for a divorce to state that the court may grant a divorce if the parties’ marriage is irretrievably broken and the parties have lived separate and apart for at least one year, instead of two years (23 Pa.C.S. §3301(d)).
On September 29, 2015, members of the Task Force presented House Bill 380 to the House Judiciary Committee at an informational meeting. Multiple family law practitioners and a child psychologist all testified about the impact of protracted, adversarial divorces on children and how a shorter waiting period could alleviate some of that negative impact. As a result of that informational meeting, HB 380 was amended slightly and then reconsidered and passed by the Pennsylvania Senate. The bill has now been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and members of the Task Force are actively meeting with key Senators to review the proposed legislation.
Vetrano|Vetrano & Feinman’s Lindsay Hanifan Childs helped prepare research for the Task Force, and contributed to the written report that was presented to members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Mrs. Childs and other divorce attorneys at the family law firm of Vetrano|Vetrano & Feinman LLC can assist you with navigating the legal technicalities of a divorce. For more information, visit www.VetranoLaw.com.
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