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Important changes to no-fault divorce law now in effect

This article looks at why Pennsylvania recently lowered wait times for no-fault divorces.

Pennsylvanians who plan on filing for a no-fault divorce have a little less to worry about now that shorter waiting periods have come into effect, according to ABC 27 News. As of December 3, the wait times for a no-fault divorce where only one spouse agrees to the divorce has been reduced to one year from the previous two years. Having a waiting period for divorce is supposed to encourage couples to reconcile; however, proponents of the shorter waiting period say that forcing couples to wait two years does nothing to encourage reconciliation and can actually lead to costly legal and emotional battles.

Pennsylvania law changes

The changes in the divorce law coming into effect apply to no-fault divorces where both parties cannot agree on the divorce. Previously, if only one spouse wanted to get a no-fault divorce and the other spouse did not, then the couple would have to go through a two-year waiting period before they would be able to obtain a final divorce.

That waiting period has now been reduced to just one year, which is more in line with the waiting period that most neighboring states also impose for no-fault divorces. This is also not the first time Pennsylvania has reduced wait times for divorces. Originally, when no-fault divorce was introduced to Pennsylvania in 1980, the waiting period was three years, which was subsequently reduced to two years in 1988.

Reducing costs and acrimony

Waiting periods for no-fault divorce are designed to give couples an opportunity to reconcile. As PennLive reports, these waiting periods were in response to concerns that no-fault divorce could lead to higher rates of divorce. However, divorce rates have actually fallen since no-fault divorce was introduced, undermining that need for a long waiting period.

Furthermore, critics of the two-year waiting period argue that such a waiting period simply created more problems than it solved. Couples whose relationship was effectively over but who were nonetheless still married in the eyes of the law often had to contend with agreeing on how to pay for shared bills and the mortgage, organizing child care, and so on. Those issues often led to further financial and legal problems, which could be further exploited by a manipulative or abusive ex-spouse.

Family law advice

As divorce law in Pennsylvania continues to evolve, it is important for anybody in the midst of or considering a divorce to get legal help as soon as possible. A qualified family law attorney can help clients with a wide array of divorce-related issues, including property division, child custody, and spousal maintenance.