Can I Get a Divorce in Pennsylvania If My Spouse Cheated On Me?
As any individual who has been or is married can tell you, marriage is a lot of work. It takes the dedicated commitment and hard work of two people to build and maintain a relationship that will last. Unfortunately, sometimes people’s feelings change. In other circumstances, one spouse may make a serious and irreversible mistake that undermines the marriage and the other spouse’s ability to trust.
If your spouse has cheated on you and committed adultery, you may have questions about whether divorce is the right option for you. While we cannot tell you how to live your life or conduct your relationships, the divorce and family law attorneys of Sadek & Cooper can set forth your legal options. We understand that this is an incredibly trying and difficult time in your life. Therefore we strive to provide the support, guidance, and information you need to make important life decisions.
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Will I Be Forced to File a Contested Fault-Based Divorce for Adultery?
Whether you are forced to litigate a fault-based divorce depends on both your and your spouse’s view of the situation. If you place a premium on assigning blame for the failure of the marriage, then proceeding via fault-based grounds may be appropriate. However, the process will be significantly more lengthy and complicated than an uncontested divorce. Thus, at least in this situation, you are not forced to file a contested fault-based divorce petition, but you do have the option to do so.
If you choose to proceed with a fault-based divorce you must prove the specific fault-based ground or grounds you allege. You can prove that the other spouse committed adultery through an array of evidence including phone records, phone messages, pictures, hotel bills, and other documents. If you fail to prove that your spouse committed adultery and provide no other grounds for the divorce, the court will be forced to deny your petition for a dissolution of marriage. Likewise, if the “innocent and injured” spouse is found to have also engaged in adultery or if he or she forgave the cheating spouse, the petition for divorce will fail.
Can I Divorce under No-Fault Grounds Even When my Spouse Cheated?
Many people are reluctant to file for a contested divorce because they are worried about airing their “dirty laundry” in a public proceeding. Therefore, they may prefer to dissolve the marriage through a no-fault approach to divorce. A no-fault divorce means that the spouses are not blaming each other for the marriage’s failure. Rather, one or both spouses believe that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that it cannot be repaired.
Pennsylvania residents and others authorized to file for divorce in Pennsylvania can file for a no-fault divorce even when fault grounds are available. The first and most straightforward scenario where a divorce like this can occur is when both spouses agree that the marriage is broken and consent to the divorce. Essentially, the adultery simply motivates the spouses to petition for the divorce but does not play a role in the actual proceeding. When a no-fault divorce by consent is petitioned for, a court must grant it provided:
- At least 90 days have elapsed since the petition was filed.
- Both individuals allege the marriage is irretrievably broken.
- Both spouses have completed an affidavit evidencing their consent.
What many people are not aware of is that no-fault divorce may be available in Pennsylvania even when one party disagrees that the marriage is irretrievably broken. When only one party alleges that the marriage is irretrievably broken and seeks a divorce, a court is authorized to grant it provided that:
- The couple has lived separate and apart for at least two years, the marriage is irretrievably broken, and an affidavit is signed stating this fact.
- The respondent fails to deny the allegations or, following a denial, the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the spouses have lived apart for at least two years.
Essentially, no-fault grounds are typically available in Pennsylvania with some caveats. In addition, there are other grounds for divorce, but they are specific to different situations and scenarios not necessarily involving adultery.
What Happens in a Divorce if Your Spouse Had an Affair? Contact a Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer
If your husband or wife has committed adultery and you are considering divorce and your full range of legal options, the lawyers of Sadek & Cooper may be able to help. Our attorneys can handle all aspects of a divorce including alimony, child custody, child support, and other related issues. To schedule a confidential consultation, please call our firm at 215-814-0395 or contact us online today.