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Property division comes sooner with Pennsylvania divorce reform

No-fault divorce has been an option in Pennsylvania since 1980. It took years of debate and discussion, but lawmakers finally agreed on reforms to the centuries-old divorce code. The no-fault method allowed one spouse to obtain a divorce without the consent of the other following a three-year waiting period. Recently, the governor signed a bill to reduce the waiting period even further to allow couples to begin property division and other settlements more quickly.

Originally, the three-year waiting period was intended to provide time for the couple to reconcile. However, marriage counselors find that the long waiting period often increases the animosity between the spouses. If couples intend to reconcile, it generally happens within the first year. The years of waiting often result in frustration that escalates into arguments, and children are the ones to suffer most from this.

Lawmakers who debated the shorter wait concluded that resolving divorces more quickly benefits everyone involved. Spouses are able to transition more rapidly into their new lives with less expense than a drawn out divorce requires. The shorter waiting time also prevents one spouse from intimidating or manipulating the other into stopping the divorce.

The new Pennsylvania law takes effect by the end of 2016. Couples who apply for a no-fault divorce will be required to live separately for one year, after which they can begin the process of property division and alimony determination. Having an attorney to facilitate the divorce will ensure that one's rights are protected and one's best interests are sought.

Source:, "New Pa. law reduces no-fault divorce waiting period to one year", Dan Sheehan, Oct. 10, 2016

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