Pennsylvania offers both, fault and no-fault divorces. No-fault divorces are the most popular and least expensive to obtain. Sections 3301(c), known as mutual consent, and 3301(d), known as non-consent, of the Divorce Code provide for no-fault divorce. If the parties mutually consent to the divorce, the divorce may become final 90 days after the filing of the complaint. If one party does not consent, the parties must live “separate and apart” for one year, prior to a decree of divorce being entered.
Pennsylvania also provides for fault-based claims, such as adultery, indignities, abandonment for more than one year, and cruelty. For each fault-based claim a defense is possible. For instance, if one spouse abandons the other, but does so because of domestic abuse, a claim of abandonment will not be awarded.
In some instances, a party may be eligible for alimony pendente lite, alimony, and/or the award of counsel fees. Alimony pendente lite, or APL, is paid to a spouse after the divorce is filed, but before the divorce is finalized. Pennsylvania does not provide guidelines for alimony. Therefore, courts look to certain factors to determine whether alimony is appropriate and for how long. The following are some of the factors that a court will use in determining an award of alimony:
(1) income and earning capacity of both spouses,
(2) the length of the marriage,
(3) the standard of living during the marriage,
(4) spouses source of income,
(5) the educational background of both spouses, and
(6) other relevant factors.
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