Fault Divorce

Pennsylvania Fault-Based Divorce

In Pennsylvania, there are six fault grounds for divorce.

The six traditional Fault Grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania allow for a divorce decree to be issued when it is alleged and proven by the innocent spouse that the other has (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, or (6) offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome. As stated above, it is uncommon to assert fault grounds as the basis of a divorce action, and the most commonly asserted fault ground is adultery.

If you are looking for a competent, experienced attorney who will help you navigate through the difficult process of your divorce, call me today to schedule a free consultation. I have offices conveniently located throughout the greater Philadelphia area including Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia.

Some Common Questions About A Fault Divorce In Pennsylvania

If I am able to establish fault based grounds will I get a larger share of the marital assets?

No. Fault of a party is not one of the factors the Pennsylvania courts use when determining how to equitably divide a marital estate. Even if you are able to establish that your spouse committed adultery, it will not have an effect on how the assets and liabilities are distributed. However, proving adultery could have an indirect effect on the distribution of marital assets if a party provides evidence that their spouse spent substantial marital assets to support an extra-marital affair. In that case, a Judge or Master could credit that money back to the innocent spouse. Additionally, while fault of a party will have no bearing on the distribution of assets, it may have an influence in regards to alimony.

Once I file for divorce on fault based grounds, can I amend it to a no-fault divorce?

Yes. If, for any reason, you decide you would rather pursue the action on no-fault grounds you can have the divorce complaint amended to reflect the new counts and grounds for relief. Many attorneys will include no-fault counts in the original complaint along with the fault-based allegations being pursued. Similarly, if you only pursue a fault-based divorce and fail at establishing the grounds for them, you are still permitted to get a divorce if you properly amend the complaint for no-fault grounds and then follow the proper procedures.


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