Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What does it mean to have "grounds for divorce"?

According to the Pennsylvania Divorce Code, you must assert a reason (or grounds) for your request to be divorced. Most commonly, individuals seeking a divorce do so under the no-fault grounds. There are two ways to obtain a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania. Those are divorce by consent, where both parties must agree to the divorce; or divorce by two years' separation, where the parties have been living separate and apart for a period of no less than two years.

Q. Can I obtain a divorce because my spouse committed adultery?

Yes, in addition to the no-fault grounds for divorce, the Pennsylvania Divorce Code does provide grounds for a fault divorce for the following reasons:

  • Committed willful and malicious desertion and absence from the other spouse without reasonable cause for a period of one or more years. If you are concerned about whether you can separate from your spouse, without desertion, you may discuss your particular situation with our divorce lawyers.
  • Committed adultery. If you believe that your spouse has committed adultery, you may want to decide if seeking a divorce for adultery is in your best interests. You can discuss the pros and cons of divorce on the grounds of adultery with our divorce lawyers.
  • By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangering the life or health of the innocent and injured spouse.
  • Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage.
  • Been sentenced to imprisonment for two or more years.
  • Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome. Indignities are very broad and diverse. You may want to discuss confidentially with one of our divorce lawyers the facts and circumstances of your marriage that leads you to believe that you should proceed with a fault divorce based on indignities.

We will be happy to discuss with you the reasons behind the divorce and help you to determine whether to obtain a no-fault or a fault divorce.

Q. If I choose to obtain a no-fault divorce, can my spouse's marital misconduct still come into play?

In certain circumstances, even if you choose to obtain a no-fault divorce, your spouse can still be made to answer for his or her misconduct during the marriage. Certain types of misconduct can be particularly relevant in proceedings for alimony or child custody.

Q. Can I choose to be "legally separated" from my spouse instead of filing for divorce?

In Pennsylvania, there is no provision in the law for legal separation. The law simply considers your date of separation a factual issue which will help to determine when you have been separated for two years (this is relevant if you choose to pursue a no-fault divorce under these grounds) and as of what date marital assets should be valuated.

Q. Can my spouse and I be separated while living in the same house?

Yes, but certain conditions apply. Not only should you and your spouse not be sharing a bed, but you should also be living separate lives. There should also be communication between the spouses regarding your intention to be separated while residing in the home together.

Q. Does it matter who files for divorce?

Usually not. The court does not give legal preference to the Plaintiff or Defendant in a divorce action. That being said, there may be strategic reasons for you to file, or hold off on filing and allow your spouse to be the Plaintiff. We will discuss your situation in detail and provide advice geared towards giving you the best chance for successfully achieving your goals.

Q. How can I get my spouse to leave the marital residence?

If you and your spouse are in the process of divorce while residing in the home together, it can create a great deal of tension. Under certain circumstances, the court may award to either spouse, exclusive right to reside in the marital residence. This can be achieved by way of a Petition for Exclusive Possession of the marital home, which is filed with the court after the divorce complaint has been filed. We can discuss with you the specifics of your case to determine whether you have grounds for exclusive possession.