Does a Long Separation Lead to an Automatic Divorce in Pennsylvania?
If you have ever heard the saying, “if it is too easy, or too good to be true, then it probably is”? That is the spot on answer to anything being “automatic” as it relates to a divorce. As such, there is no process for an automatic divorce after a long separation in Pennsylvania.
While nothing is “automatic,” if you and your former spouse have been separated for at least one year the process of divorcing can become simpler. Talking with the experienced Philadelphia divorce attorneys at Schwartz, Fox, & Saltzman can answer your questions and help you make informed decisions for your individual case.
Automatic Divorce After Long Separation
There is no automatic divorce granted due to a long separation in Pennsylvania. Regardless of your situation or type of divorce proceedings you choose, you need to go through the legal process to initiate divorce and end your marriage.
That said, the process can become simpler and faster if there are no substantial issues and the parties have been separated for at least one year. In Pennsylvania, you can file for divorce without the consent of both parties (“no contest”) after a one year separation.
Talking with an experienced family lawyer can give you greater insight into how a lengthy separation affects your divorce.
Filing for Separation in PA
Because Pennsylvania does not recognize “legal separation,” there is no process to file for one.
An experienced divorce attorney can help you understand your rights and advise you on proceeding with your individual case.
“Separate & Apart” in Pennsylvania
If you seek a divorce based on your marriage being irretrievably broken, section 3301(d) of the Divorce code requires you and your spouse to live separately and apart for one year. Normally, you and your spouse must live in separate homes for one year. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has interpreted the separate and apart requirement of 3301(d) to also mean you and your spouse can be living together but must be living completely separate lives. While you can be separated and live in the same home, it can be a difficult proof problem.
Separation vs Divorce
The term “divorce” means you and your spouse completed the legal process to end your marriage formally. Separation means you and your spouse are no longer living together or are living together but are leading separate lives. While Pennsylvania Law does not recognize the concept of a legal separation, a confirmed date of separation can aid your divorce as it can establish a formal date of separation for the purposes of a section 3301(d).
Filing for Divorce Following a Separation in PA
The date of separation is essential in some cases to establish the inclusive dates of what assets are marital assets and which assets are not marital assets, as well as determining the value of certain assets.
Divorcing Someone Who Refuses to Sign
You will likely need to obtain a divorce pursuant to section 3301(d) of the Divorce code. You can still seek and obtain a divorce even if your spouse refuses to cooperate or sign any documents. Your spouse’s refusal to sign the divorce papers will likely prolong the divorce process as the court will have to hold a hearing.
Divorcing Someone You Haven’t Seen For Some Time
You can divorce your spouse if you have not seen or communicated with them for a long period of time. This may work to your advantage as it will make it easier to satisfy the separated and apart requirement for section 3301(d) of the Divorce code. However, you will still have to give your spouse formal notice of your intention to obtain a divorce by serving them with a copy of your Complaint for divorce or meet the requirement of 231 Pa. Code Rule 430 to obtain alternative service of process.
Talk With an Experienced Divorce Lawyer
Schwartz, Fox, & Saltzman wants to help if you are considering a divorce in Pennsylvania. Our family law attorneys have over four decades of collective experience and can help you craft the resolution that fits your circumstances. Call us today at 215-967-9070 or click here.