When one spouse files a Complaint of Divorce in Pennsylvania courts, the document states which type of divorce is being sought. In general, Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” divorce jurisdiction, which means that the Plaintiff (the spouse who files the court documents) does not have to prove that the Defendant (the spouse who has a copy of the filing delivered to them) was the one who cause the marriage to fall apart because of infidelity, mistreatment, desertion or any other reason, unless “fault” issues are raised in the divorce matter.
Mutual Consent Divorce
One type of divorce in Pennsylvania is called “Mutual Consent,” divorce, also known as an uncontested or “no contest” divorce.
A judge can sign the divorce decree 90 days after the Defendant has been served divorce papers., including the initial divorce complaint. If spouses cannot work out a Marriage Settlement Agreement concerning child custody, child support, alimony, and property division before the divorce is finalized, those issued may have to be decided by the court.
Two-Year Separation Divorce
If the Defendant refuses or otherwise fails to respond to the original divorce filing, the Plaintiff can, after a two-year period, file an affidavit stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that the couple has been separated for two years. If the Defendant refuses to sign an affidavit again, the divorce decree may be granted.
If the Defendant files an affidavit countering the claims, then the case may go to court to handle distributions of marital property if the parties were unable to reach a settlement outside of court. If the parties raise a claim for equitable distribution in their divorce, then the outstanding property issues, both assets and debts, must be resolved before receiving a divorce decree. This is usually done through an agreement or consent order that can be negotiated between the attorneys involved, or can be a result of an equitable distribution court order from a family court judge.
The Plaintiff, or spouse seeking the divorce, in a fault case has to prove not only that the other spouse is to blame for the marriage breaking up, but that they themselves were innocent of any wrongdoing. If the Defendant is able to prove in court that the Plaintiff was at fault in any way, the divorce could be denied.