Wayne Family Law: Pennsylvania Reduces the Waiting Period to Obtain a Unilateral No-Fault Divorce from Two Years to One Year
The waiting period to move forward with a unilateral no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania when one party does not consent to the divorce has been reduced from two years to one year. This new law went into effect December 3, 2016. Act 102, signed into law by Governor Wolf on October 4, 2016, amends 23 Pa.C.S. § 3301(d), which previously required the parties to live separate and apart for two years before moving forward with a divorce when one spouse does not consent. Now, parties will only need to live separate and apart for one year to obtain a divorce under 3301(d). When both parties consent to a divorce, they may still obtain a divorce on no-fault grounds under 23 Pa. C.S. 3301(c), which requires only a 90 day waiting period.
This means that divorcing couples can begin the process of dividing assets and determining alimony sooner than before. Divorces will move more quickly from start to finish, resulting in less emotional turmoil and fewer legal expenses because the parties will not need to use their attorneys to negotiate issues that arise during the two year waiting period. There is also a significant benefit to the children and the overall wellbeing of the family to reduce the delays and litigation associated with obtaining a divorce in Pennsylvania.
Family lawyers throughout the state, as well as the Pennsylvania Bar Association, strongly supported House Bill 380 as it passed through the Pennsylvania House and Senate. On September 29, 2015, members of a Task Force dedicated to the passage of House Bill 380 presented to the House Judiciary Committee the benefits of reducing the waiting period from two years to one year. This Task Force was comprised of family law practitioners and a child psychologist, and Vetrano|Vetrano & Feinman’s Lindsay Hanifan Childs prepared research and contributed to the written report that was presented. The report’s focus was on the benefits of reducing the waiting period for unilateral no-fault divorce for the family, specifically reducing the emotional and economic cost that the two year waiting period perpetuates.
It is important to note that this new law applies only to separations that commence after the effective date, which is December 3rd, 2016. So, if you separated prior to December 3rd, 2016, you still need to wait two years to move forward with a unilateral no-fault divorce if your spouse does not consent to the divorce. Because of this, as the new law takes effect, there will bespecial considerations regarding the timing of the divorce, which the family law attorneys at Vetrano|Vetrano & Feinman can help navigate.
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