Potential Grounds For Divorce in Pennsylvania

Signing divorce papers

Understanding the key differences between fault and no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania divorce laws is crucial for anyone navigating this life-changing process.

Fault divorces are predicated on the notion that one spouse's misconduct is the primary reason for the marital breakdown. This path can be more contentious, as it requires the accusing spouse to provide proof of the other's wrongdoing, which could range from adultery to cruelty.

On the other hand, no-fault divorces offer a more amicable route, allowing couples to dissolve their marriage without casting blame. This option typically involves less scrutiny into personal matters and can lead to a quicker resolution, provided both parties agree.

Grounds for Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania


When it comes to fault divorce in Pennsylvania, adultery is a ground that carries significant weight. Legally, adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse, and proving this in court requires clear and convincing evidence. The implications of an adultery claim can be far-reaching, potentially influencing alimony decisions and the division of assets. However, it's important to note that accusations of adultery can also add a layer of complexity and emotional strain to the divorce process, making it a path that requires careful consideration.

Desertion and Abandonment

Desertion and abandonment are other grounds for fault divorce that can profoundly impact the outcome of the proceedings. In Pennsylvania, a spouse must have left the marital home for at least one year without a reasonable cause or consent to meet the criteria for desertion. This abandonment can influence not only the divorce itself but also related matters such as custody and financial support. It's essential for the deserted spouse to document the circumstances and duration of the abandonment to build a strong case in court.

Cruel and Barbarous Treatment

Cruel and barbarous treatment is a term that encompasses acts of domestic violence and extreme mental cruelty. In Pennsylvania, such behavior must be severe and pose a direct threat to the life or health of the spouse claiming grounds for a fault divorce. Evidence, which may include medical records, police reports, or witness testimonies, is crucial to substantiate these claims. The courts take allegations of cruel treatment seriously, and proven instances can heavily influence divorce settlements, particularly when it comes to the safety and well-being of any children involved.

Grounds for No-Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania

Mutual Consent

Mutual consent divorces represent a more harmonious path to dissolving a marriage in Pennsylvania. This no-fault option requires both spouses to agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and to file affidavits after a mandatory 90-day waiting period. The waiting period is designed to ensure that both parties have had sufficient time to contemplate their decision. Mutual consent divorces can be less adversarial and more cost-effective, as they often avoid prolonged legal battles and facilitate a smoother transition into post-marital life.

Irretrievable Breakdown

In cases where mutual consent is not achievable, one spouse may pursue a no-fault divorce on the grounds of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Pennsylvania law requires a separation period of at least one year before a spouse can file under these grounds. During this time, it must be demonstrated that the marriage cannot be saved, and if contested, the court may require counseling or other interventions. This route can be particularly challenging when one spouse is unwilling to divorce, potentially leading to a more drawn-out and emotionally taxing process.

Contact Our Skilled Attorneys at Testa & Pagnanelli, LLC

If you're facing the challenges of divorce in Philadelphia, PA, and need expert guidance through the complexities of family law, Testa & Pagnanelli, LLC is here to help.

Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to providing personalized and compassionate legal support to protect your rights and interests. (610) 365-4733

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