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You must meet certain requirements before ending your marriage

Just as the state of Pennsylvania has laws for entering a marital union (for example, those dealing with age and consent), the state also regulates the process of getting divorced. For instance, you must meet certain residency requirements, and a variety of legal grounds are also available for a marital breakup (you can file either a fault-based or a no-fault divorce).

Navigating the divorce process can understandably be overwhelming due to the many details and moving parts involved. However, here is a glimpse at the divorce laws you must know before ending your marriage in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania divorce law

According to state law, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. In addition, marital breakups are immediately final. In other words, there is no waiting period.

In addition, the state began to legally recognize same-sex unions back in 2014. As a result, Pennsylvania's procedures for getting divorced are universal, applying equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Grounds for getting divorced

Legal grounds for divorce in the state include the following:

  • Violence or cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Separation
  • Desertion for one year or more
  • Insanity (involving confinement for 18 months)
  • Criminal conviction (involving a prison sentence of two years or more)
  • Bigamy

Another common legal ground for a marital breakup is irretrievable breakdown -- also known as irreconcilable differences. This is essentially a no-fault divorce.

If you and your spouse decided to separate prior to getting divorced, you must have lived separately for a minimum of one year prior to filing for divorce if your separation began on or after Dec. 5, 2016. Meanwhile, the minimum separation period is two years if you separated before Dec. 5, 2016.

What to expect after your divorce filing

If you and your spouse have decided to get divorced, you may try to work out your differences regarding matters such as asset division or alimony at the negotiation table. Through informal negotiations, you can work toward a mutually satisfactory settlement, without further court intrusion.

However, if you cannot find common ground with your soon-to-be ex, you have no choice but to go to divorce trial. There, a judge will end up making the final decisions for you regarding your divorce matters. In either situation, you have the right to pursue the most personally favorable outcome so that you will be in the best financial situation possible following the breakup of your marriage.

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