One of the most common legal questions we receive from potential family law client at Sadek & Cooper is whether an individual needs the signature of his or her spouse to get a divorce in Pennsylvania. As with most legal questions, the best answer we can give online is that it depends on your goals and circumstances. While we can only provide specific and targeted legal advice after a meticulous review of your case, we can discuss the general divorce options available under Pennsylvania law.
If you’d like to speak to a family law and divorce attorney regarding the divorce options Pennsylvania law provides for you, call a Philadelphia divorce lawyer at 215-995-2543 today. Our law offices are conveniently located in Center City Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, and Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
You Don’t Always Need Your Spouse’s Signature to Obtain a Divorce
There is good news for married individuals in Pennsylvania who wish to end their marriage. That is, there are options and paths forward for divorce even when your spouse will not consent to the divorce or sign the divorce paperwork. That said, a contested divorce will take more time and is likely to cost significantly more money so divorcing spouses are always encouraged to resolve their differences and workout a marital settlement agreement amicably. However, there are certain situations where it is impractical or impossible to obtain consent.
When a Pennsylvania resident is unable or unwilling to obtain the consent of his or her spouse, there are certain options to proceed. To start, the individual may decide to bring an action for divorce on the basis of an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. To qualify for divorce under these grounds, the marriage must be irretrievably broken and the spouses must have lived separate and apart for at least two years. If you have not yet reached the two-year mark, if you wish to pursue under these grounds you will need to wait until this statutory period has elapsed. Once the requisite time period has elapsed, you may petition the court for a divorce. However, your spouse may choose to challenge this petition for divorce on a number of grounds including that the date of separation is incorrect or that the marriage is not irretrievably broken.
While it is true that the fault-based grounds for divorce are available even when a spouse will not consent, their use is rare. However, a divorce and family lawyer can help you assess whether the time, expense, and legal requirements of a traditional fault-based divorce are justified by the situation.
If Your Spouse Agrees to the Divorce, you Can Pursue a No Fault Divorce on the Basis of Mutual Consent
If your spouse agrees to the divorce and the parties is willing to negotiate equitable distribution, child support, and alimony issues there is a significant likelihood for an expedited process. Furthermore, there is a high likelihood that you will be able to save significant frustration and expense in comparison to a contested divorce. If your spouse is willing to sign divorce papers, your divorce will be able to proceed under any of Pennsylvania’s mutual consent grounds.
The important thing to remember regarding divorce in Pennsylvania is that while you have options, few options are automatic or trigger on their own accord. Rather, divorce in Pennsylvania is premised upon the timely and appropriate actions of interested parties. Therefore if you know that your marriage is broken and will not work out, it is important to take the first steps in the process so that you can begin building your new life as quickly as possible. This first step involves determining whether your spouse is open to a divorce and, if it hasn’t already occurred, establishing a date of separation. Of course, if you have concerns regarding your health and safety but still want to attempt a divorce by consent, please take all reasonable and necessary steps and precautions before making contact.
Work with a Philadelphia Divorce Attorney of Sadek & Cooper
If you are considering divorce, contact the divorce attorneys of Sadek & Cooper to discuss your options. We can consider your situation and goals and set forth your viable legal options for divorce. To schedule a private consultation, call the lawyers of Sadek & Cooper at 215-995- 2543 today.