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Wilkes-Barre Divorce Lawyer

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Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce

In Pennsylvania, actions for divorce can be based on fault or no-fault. Generally speaking, the fault or lack thereof will not have an impact on the asset division, but there are times when fault can be used as a defense to an alimony claim.

Fault divorce

In a fault-based divorce, the petitioning spouse must prove that the other spouse did something wrong. You can file for a fault divorce under the following circumstances:

  • Willful and malicious desertion - Your spouse has left your residence for a period of at least one year, without reasonable cause.
  • Adultery - Your spouse has had an extramarital affair.
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment endangering your life or health - Your spouse has been physically or mentally abusive to you.
  • Bigamy - Your spouse is married to someone in addition to you.
  • Imprisonment - Your spouse received a prison sentence of two years or more upon conviction of a crime.
  • Personal indignities - Your spouse has made your condition intolerable and life burdensome.
  • Confinement in a mental institution - Your spouse has been found mentally ill and requires institutionalization. You must wait 18 months before filing and there must be no hope that your spouse will be released in the 18 months after you file. A divorce can be granted without a court hearing.

No-fault divorce

In a no-fault divorce the petitioning spouse does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong. Declaring that you just can't get along is enough. This is referred to as irreconcilable differences or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. You can claim no fault in the following circumstances:

  • Mutual consent - Your spouse is in agreement with you that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
  • Irretrievable breakdown - Your spouse has lived apart from you for at least two years and you file, stating the marriage is irretrievably broken. Your spouse must agree in order for the divorce to be granted. If your spouse does not agree, a hearing is required to show the marriage is over and you have lived apart. If the judge thinks the marriage can be saved, a 90- to 120-day continuance may be ordered, along with marriage counseling. If a divorce is still desired after that, the judge will reconsider.

Our aim is to empower you with knowledge and an understanding of the Pennsylvania law as it applies to your situation. You do not need to be completely consumed by the divorce process. I help you understand and resolve the financial and legal matters so that you can focus on moving forward with your new life. Knowledge is power! Know your rights, have a sound plan, and get in control of your new life.

Divorce Problem? We can Solve It.

Angela F. Stevens, Attorney at Law is a full-service law firm with offices serving the Wilkes-Barre, Kingston and all of the Wyoming Valley including Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming and surrounding cities. We are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and evenings and weekends by appointment. Feel free to call us toll free at 1-844-PA-SOLVE (1-844-727-6583), 570-718-4900 or contact us online to tell us about how we can help with your questions regarding divorce or family law.