In Pennsylvania, there are “fault” grounds and “no fault” grounds legally recognized to form the basis of a divorce. Fault grounds, set forth are the following:
(1) Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years.
(2) Committed adultery.
(3) By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse.
(4) Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting.
(5) Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime.
(6) Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.
“No Fault” grounds are commonly referred to as “by consent,” pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S. 3301(c), which indicates that both parties consent to the divorce and will sign the appropriate forms to provide proof to the court of their consent.
The second “no fault” ground is commonly referred to as “living separate and apart” which requires the parties to live separately for one year prior to asking the Court for a divorce decree. There’s a lot that goes into determining the date of separation for this no fault ground, so make sure to ask one of Baer Romain & Ginty’s attorneys for help.
Attorney Advice: More often than not, parties will seek a no-fault divorce. So few attorneys are filing under fault grounds because they can often be difficult to prove, costly (both financially and emotionally), and for the most part, Master and Judges pay little attention to fault grounds.