In Pennsylvania you can file for either a “fault” or a “no-fault” divorce. So what does it mean to file for a “fault” divorce?

What is a fault divorce? 

When someone files for a “fault” divorce they are essentially saying that the other spouse is the reason the marriage failed. Usually this means the other spouse behaved badly and this led to the divorce.

In Pennsylvania you can file for “fault” divorce if your spouse:

  • Abandoned you for a year or more
  • Had sexual intercourse with someone else (adultery)
  • Beat you, verbally abused you or was excessively cruel
  • Is already married to someone else
  • Is convicted of a felony

Fault and property division

Just because your spouse cheats on you does not mean you automatically get to keep the house. In Pennsylvania fault does not determine “who gets what” otherwise known as property division.

Fault and alimony

What fault can affect is alimony, also called spousal maintenance payments. A judge has discretion when it comes to this area. So, if one spouse cheats and then demands alimony the judge has the power to reduce or deny alimony because of the bad behavior. Conversely, the courts will also take into consideration behavior such as rape, threats and stalking and harassment when reviewing an at fault divorce.

What is a no-fault divorce?

Pennsylvania also allows couples to divorce when neither spouse is to blame. If a marriage is “irretrievable broken” or not fixable then couples can divorce. A no-fault divorce can be granted when both spouses agree to the divorce of after they have lived apart for two years or more. Neither spouse has to explain why they want the divorce. In no-fault divorces bad behavior does not affect alimony.