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Pennsylvania Divorce Information

The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of Pennsylvania divorce.

You can get more specific information regarding Pennsylvania divorce laws using the links provided to Pennsylvania divorce laws or at your local library.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Before taking any action you should seek the advice of an attorney familiar with the laws in the state in which you will be seeking a divorce.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

Pennsylvania Divorce Resources

Residency Requirements No spouse is entitled to commence an action for divorce or annulment under this part unless at least one of the parties has been a bona fide resident in this Commonwealth for at least six months immediately previous to the commencement of the action. Both parties shall be competent witnesses to prove their respective residence, and proof of actual residence within this Commonwealth for six months shall create a presumption of domicile within this Commonwealth.
Where to File A proceeding for divorce or annulment may be brought in the county:
  • Where the defendant resides
  • If the defendant resides outside of this Commonwealth, where the plaintiff resides
  • Of matrimonial domicile, if the plaintiff has continuously resided in the county
  • Prior to six months after the date of final separation and with agreement of the defendant, where the plaintiff resides or, if neither party continues to reside in the county of matrimonial domicile, where either party resides
  • After six months after the date of final separation, where either party resides
Grounds for Divorce The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has:
  • Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years
  • Committed adultery
  • By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse
  • Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting
  • Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime
  • Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome
  • Institutionalization.--The court may grant a divorce from a spouse upon the ground that insanity or serious mental disorder has resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of an action under this part and where there is no reasonable prospect that the spouse will be discharged from inpatient care during the 18 months subsequent to the commencement of the action. A presumption that no prospect of discharge exists shall be established by a certificate of the superintendent of the institution to that effect and which includes a supporting statement of a treating physician
  • Mutual consent.--The court may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action under this part and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce
Voluntary or required mediation Yes
Voluntary or recommended CounselingYes
Property Distribution In an action for divorce or annulment, the court shall, upon request of either party, equitably divide, distribute or assign, in kind or otherwise, the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct in such proportions and in such manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors, including:
  • The length of the marriage
  • Any prior marriage of either party
  • The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party
  • The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
  • The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
  • The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker
  • The value of the property set apart to each party.
  • The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
  • The economic circumstances of each party, including Federal, State and local tax ramifications, at the time the division of property is to become effective
  • Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children
Child Custody In ordering any form of custody, the court shall determine the best interest of the child by considering all relevant factors, giving weighted consideration to those factors which affect the safety of the child, including the following:
  • Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.
  • The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child.
  • The information set forth in section 5329.1(a) (relating to consideration of child abuse and involvement with protective services).
  • The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child.
  • The need for stability and continuity in the child's education, family life and community life.
  • The availability of extended family.
  • The child's sibling relationships.
  • The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child's maturity and judgment.
  • The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm.
  • Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child's emotional needs.
  • Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.
  • The proximity of the residences of the parties.
  • Each party's availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements.
  • The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party's effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with tha
  • t party.
  • The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party's household.
  • The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party's household.
  • Any other relevant factor.
Child Support Child support calculation is based upon the reasonable needs of the child and the reasonable ability of the parent to pay. The court determines child support amounts using guidelines created by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The following factors are considered in the support calculation:
  • Each parent's income
  • Daycare expenses
  • The cost of health insurance
  • Social Security benefits being received by the child
  • The living arrangements of the child.
There is an automatic review the support amount every four (4) years.

Even if the parent is not working, the court may order them to pay child support.

Child support obligations usually last until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. In cases where the child has physical or mental conditions that require extra support the child support obligation may continue past the age of 18.
Spousal Support Where a divorce decree has been entered, the court may allow alimony, as it deems reasonable, to either party only if it finds that alimony is necessary.

In determining whether alimony is necessary and in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
  • The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
  • The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
  • The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
  • The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
  • The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
  • The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
  • The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
  • The property brought to the marriage by either party.
  • The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
  • The relative needs of the parties.
  • The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct of either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony, except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party.
  • The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
  • Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 (relating to property rights), to provide for the party's reasonable needs.
  • Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.


Pennsylvania Divorce Attorneys by County

Pennsylvania Divorce Mediators by County


DISCLAIMER:
This information has been compiled directly from the most recently available statutes online for each state. Every effort has been made to assure that this information is correct and complete. Be aware that laws frequently change. Do not take any action based on this information without first consulting an attorney to be certain that the laws pertaining to your particular situation have not changed.

The language used in most cases on this page is legal terminology taken directly from the statutes and laws of each state. The terminology is not always easy to understand. If you are not sure of something you should consult an attorney so that you can fully understand the meaning of the laws.

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