May 24, 2022
How long will my divorce take?
Everyone thinking about divorce wants to know the answer to this question. And every lawyer answers “It depends.” But I can give you some helpful guidelines.
Debbie Y. Schneider, Esq., an Attorney at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation provides helpful guidelines about how long a divorce takes in Pennsylvania.
In 1981, the Legislature revised the Pennsylvania Divorce Code and made divorce “no-fault.” Since that time everyone files under the “no-fault,” provisions, even though there are some ancient “fault” provisions retained in the Divorce Code. Both provisions are non-adversarial, which means you do not have to appear in front of a Judge or go to Court. All proceedings can be managed through first-class US mail.
There are 2 no-fault provisions. The first is 3301(c) and it requires a 90-day mandatory waiting period. The waiting period is known as a “cooling-off period.” It is designed to be exactly that. The state does not want people to precipitously divorce their spouse, but in my experience, people really don’t do that, but the state builds in a buffer, nonetheless. At the conclusion of the waiting period, both parties complete affidavits of consent, which say “I am consenting to this divorce.” This provision is designed for people who are completely in agreement about seeking a divorce.
The second no-fault provision is 3301(d) and it works a bit differently. Occasionally there are couples that do not agree about proceeding with a divorce. The party who wants the divorce (the moving party) files under the 3301(d) and declares that there has been a “separation.” A separation is obviously living in separate residences, but there is also something known as legal separation. Legal separation simply means that the parties have a meeting of the minds that “they are separated.” Once one spouse can simply say to the other, “I am separated from you.” You can imagine that this might generate disagreement if one spouse is against the divorce, but it remains a valid legal principle.
Following a one-year separation, the moving party will be granted their divorce. The paperwork for this allows even this divorce to be resolved without Court intervention. But, ultimately it might have to go to a Judge, but there isn’t a Judge sitting anywhere in Pennsylvania that will make two people remain married past a documented one-year separation.
Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation