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The steps, stages and duration of a Pennsylvania divorce will naturally vary depending on factors such as:
Regardless of whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, Pennsylvania is a “no-fault divorce” state. For all practical purposes, divorces in Pennsylvania are classified as no-fault, either with consent or without consent of both parties.
If both parties consent to a divorce, one spouse begins by filing a divorce complaint (petition) against the other. After a 90-day “cooling-off” waiting period, economic assets can be divided right away. If there are issues to be negotiated involving property or debts, these must be resolved by use of a property agreement. The whole process of a divorce may be completed within five months or so, if the parties agree on the issues which need to be resolved.
On the other hand, a nonconsent divorce follows a different process. If a husband and wife have been separated for two years or more, but one party will not agree to be divorced, the Family law Court may divorce the couple without the consent of the noncooperative spouse.
To sum up: A relatively quick divorce is possible when both parties agree on property division and other elements, or when there has been a two-year separation. In a nonconsent situation where one or both spouses cannot agree on property division and debt division elements, the divorce process may continue over a period of two or three years and become very costly.
It should come as no surprise, then, that we strongly urge our clients, whenever possible, to resolve issues through alternative dispute resolution methods: either through mediation or through Collaborative Family Law processes.