The Governor of Pennsylvania signed into law a major change to the Pennsylvania Divorce law. Before this amendment, a person who wished to be divorced from his or her spouse, in cases where the other spouse would not consent to a divorce, had to wait two years from the date the parties separated in order to obtain a divorce.
This has changed. Effective December 4, 2016, the waiting period has been reduced to one year. This applies only to divorces where one party does not consent, or agree, to being divorced. This is a major change in the law and will allow persons who previously had to wait for two years to now be divorced in half the time.
While the new law takes effect on December 4, 2016, it is important to note the last paragraph of the Act, which states:
“The amendment…shall apply to periods of living separate and apart that
commence after the effective date of the Act.”
We, as practitioners, are not sure how our County Family Clerks are going to interpret this section. Since the filing of a Divorce Complaint is one method of establishing a “date of separation”, we believe the safest manner in which to proceed, from now until the effective date of the Act (December 4, 2016), is to not file new Divorce Complaints, for people who are separated less than two years and who believe their spouse will not consent to a divorce, until on or after December 4, 2016. In that way, at the very worst, the date of separation will be considered to be December 4, 2016 and the one year period will begin on that date. Even with that, the waiting period will be reduced by a number of months in all cases.
This is very good news.