Answer by a Doylestown Divorce Lawyer
This is one of the top questions our clients have when faced with divorce in PA. The answer depends on a variety of factors, including whether your spouse consents to the divorce and how long you have been separated. The divorce process can be simple and straightforward, but it can also be complicated if there are issues with property division, support, alimony and/or custody (some of which have to be resolved before the divorce can be finalized).
There are two grounds for obtaining a no-fault divorce in PA, which we will discuss below.
Mutual consent is one of the most common grounds for obtaining a no-fault divorce and occurs in cases where the parties consent to the divorce and agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken or cannot be fixed. After a divorce complaint is filed and served, there is a 90-day waiting period that must elapse before the parties can proceed to finalize the divorce. After the 90-day waiting period has elapsed, each party must file an affidavit consenting to the divorce. Then, assuming the parties do not have any property division or alimony issues, the parties can file the appropriate paperwork to allow the judge to grant the divorce without a court hearing.
In cases where there is mutual consent, the divorce can take anywhere from 4 to 5 months to be completed. Even though the waiting period is 90 days, it takes time for the court to process the various paperwork that must be filed and to issue a divorce decree.
If a couple in PA has lived separate and apart for at least 2 years (with the understanding that “separate and apart” does not require the spouses to be physically separated), a party may file a complaint based on the ground that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
In order for the court to grant a divorce, the other party must not deny either that the parties have separated for at least 2 years or that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Because there is no 90-day waiting period, the divorce process may only take a couple of months, if the other party fully cooperates with fulfilling all of the procedural requirements.
Even if the other party does not consent to the divorce and denies that the parties have been living separate and apart (again, not necessarily physically apart) for at least 2 years or denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, a judge may still grant a divorce after a hearing to address such claims. At the hearing, the judge will hear the other party’s objections and may decide that the parties have, in fact, lived separate and apart for at least 2 years, or that the marriage is irretrievably broken, even though one party may not agree to one or both facts.
However, if the judge decides that there may be a possibility of the parties reconciling, the judge will continue the case for a period of no less than 90 days and no more than 120 days, unless the parties agree to a period in excess of 120 days, in order to give the parties an opportunity to resolve their issues and reconcile. In such a case, the divorce can take some time before it is finalized.
Seek Counsel from an Experienced Doylestown, PA Divorce Lawyer
Though no-fault divorces may be straightforward and appear simple, it is advisable to speak with an experienced PA divorce lawyer to make sure that your interests are protected, because once the divorce is finalized, your remedies are extremely limited. Additionally, while spouses may be on friendly terms initially and decide to file the complaint themselves, they may later find that they are at odds with each other, thereby creating a litany of unexpected issues. The above only addresses how long a no-fault divorce can take and does not address other issues associated with no-fault divorces; remember, “no-fault” does not mean “no-issue.” Call the experienced divorce lawyers at Zlock & Coverdale to schedule a consultation. The firm has offices in Doylestown and Newtown, PA. 215-340-5500