How Has the One-Year Separation Law Changed Pennsylvania Divorces?

September 14, 2018
Family problem, issues concept. Father leaving his child and wife. Divorce, separation.

Two years ago, on Dec., 4, 2016, the Pennsylvania Legislature relaxed its “no-fault divorce law” waiting period from two years to one year for a spouse seeking to obtain a divorce without the other spouse’s consent.

Over the past two years, there have been various short-term studies regarding the amended separation law. At this time, their informal results show that the new no-fault separation law has had negligible effects on divorce rates in the state.

The shorter waiting period allows couples to immediately start the process of dividing assets, establishing child custody, and determining whether alimony is necessary. It also limits the amount of time a dependent spouse can collect financial support from the other, which prior to this change, encouraged divorcing couples to drag out the proceedings, and consequently delayed court procedures.

Before the law change, Bloomberg ranked Pennsylvania as the “12th worst state in the country as far as obstacles couples faced to obtain a divorce”.  Prior to the new law, obtaining a divorce meant first getting over a stack of legal stumbling blocks. These included filing fees, minimum separation period, minimum length of residency, minimum waiting period after filing for the divorce, and minimum number of days for the entire process (start to finish).

The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Family Law Section worked closely with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tarah Toohill, to advance this legislation. By reducing the waiting period, the parties and the courts can now focus on resolving overall divorce issues, instead of prolonging a process that can be both economically and emotionally costly.

“I wish they could have passed it sooner,” said PBA Family Law Section Chair, Mary Cushing Doherty, in a statement released shortly after the bill passed. Doherty went on to say “it will mitigate the effects of stress on all the parties involved in the divorce, including the children, and allowing the family to begin the healing process sooner.”

Questions About a New Jersey or Pennsylvania Divorce? Call Our Family Law Firm Today

The family law lawyers at Kardos, Rickles & Hand are devoted to helping our clients avoid prolonged conflict to arrive at solutions that are in the best interests of their families and themselves. If you have questions about family law matters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, you can reach us for a consultation.