How Long Does a Divorce Take in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania state requires a minimum 90-day waiting period between filing and finalizing a divorce. Some uncontested divorces are resolved as quickly as 3.5 months, while others can take 6 months or more.
The duration of a divorce is one of the main issues that worries spouses who consider the dissolution of marriage. As a rule, the terms of each Pennsylvania divorce process are case-specific and directly depend on whether it is a fault or non-fault divorce. The assets and debts of the spouses as well as their willingness to agree on the fundamental conditions of the divorce are also important factors that influence the duration of the process.
Overall, the average length of divorce is around 6 months. It is important to note that it is affected not only by the type of case, but also by the caseload of the court in which the hearing takes place. If you want to speed up the process and there are no legal obstacles, you might want to consider filing with the court with a freer schedule.
Pennsylvania Divorce Waiting Period
If both spouses are interested in ending their marriage as soon as possible, it would be reasonable to initiate a no-fault divorce in PA. How long does it take? As a rule, the no-fault divorces are finalized within 4 months. The main condition of the fast divorce proceedings is the agreement of the spouses regarding the division of property, assets, debts, child custody, and support. Pennsylvania law distinguishes between two types of no-fault divorces:
- A mutual consent divorce is the no-fault divorce where both spouses agree that their marriage is irreversibly broken.
- The legislation provides for a 90-day waiting period for divorce in PA, which gives the parties the opportunity to re-evaluate the appropriateness and possible consequences of the divorce. This period starts from the moment the complaint is filed.
- After the specified time, the husband/wife will have the right to file the sworn statement regarding their consent to the divorce. If the proper procedure is followed, the court will approve the divorce.
- There are circumstances when the spouses fail to reach an agreement on certain issues of the case. In such a situation, the divorce becomes contested, and a different procedure is initiated.
- A separation divorce is remarkable in that its initiation requires the consent of only one of the parties to the process. This option may be relevant in the conditions where the other party refuses to agree to the divorce or for some reason cannot be found. If the spouses have been living apart for one year or more, the husband/wife unilaterally files the sworn statement that the marriage is irreversibly broken.
The separation divorce timeline may shift partly if it turns out that the spouses still live under the same roof, share a common household, or have intimate relationships. In situation like this, the husband or wife may need legal assistance to initiate the divorce process in accordance with the separation requirements in Pennsylvania.
How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in PA?
A contested divorce is a longer, more expensive, and more stressful process compared to the other divorce options. While PA no-fault divorce waiting period is 90 days and the proceedings last approximately 4 months, the contested divorce can easily drag on from 6 months to several years. It all depends on the complexity of the case.
The following factors directly affect the duration of this type of dissolution of marriage (the list is not exhaustive):
- Disagreements regarding assets and debts.It takes time to determine which assets and debts of the spouses are to be divided. In addition, you need to know their current value in order not to make a mistake during the division process. In such cases, the involvement of an appraiser is often required. They draw up a detailed report describing the prices of property and accounts owned by the parties, which takes quite some time and money.
- Child custody disputes.The procedure for proving the right to sole custody for a child, depriving the other parent of the visiting rights, or dividing the time between the parents fairly requires a lot of time, effort, and a strong evidence base. The same goes for child support disputes. Courts in Pennsylvania handle these cases with the utmost care to ensure that their decrees fully meet the interests of the child.
- Lawyer caseload and court schedule.Preparation of documents and organization of meetings within the court case require a certain amount of time. It is possible that yours and your attorney’s schedule will not always match, which may cause some appointments to be rescheduled and proceedings to be delayed.
If the parties have to resolve a large number of disputes, this will automatically increase the number of hearings in the court. The court schedule is often busy, and the couple’s attorneys need extra time to study the issues before the next hearing and complete the court-mandated processes in-between. Thus, the case can last for months or even years.
How Long Does It Take for a Divorce to Be Final?
Before the divorce becomes final, the spouses must go through the following stages of the divorce process:
- Filing for divorce in Pennsylvania begins with the petitioner submitting the complaint. One copy of this form is filed with the court, and the other is handed over to the other spouse within 30 days.
- After that, the spouses prepare all the necessary documents listing their assets and debts.
- If the spouses failed to reach an agreement on the division of property, child custody, and spousal support, then further hearings will be held to settle all these disputes.
- The official dissolution of marriage occurs when the court orders a divorce decree.
If the parties settle all or most of the issues amicably, the divorce will become possible in 4-6 months from the date of filing the complaint. In a situation where one of the spouses does not want to negotiate and seek a compromise solution, the proceedings may take years. Approximate terms of the contested divorce are 5-12 months. As for a fault-based divorce, its timeline is practically unlimited and depends on the number of hearings and what documents are needed to resolve existing disputes between spouses.
How to Get a Quick Divorce in Pennsylvania?
The most optimal way to get a fast divorce in Pennsylvania is to start a no-fault, uncontested proceeding. Therefore, the only significant delay will be the 90-day waiting period from the date of filing the complaint. It is not compulsory to hire a lawyer for such type of divorces; therefore, their caseload will not influence the duration of your divorce process negatively. Besides, it is possible to order help with divorce forms online and get all the documents needed for your specific case with the instructions on how to file with the court. This way, you will save money and time which you might otherwise spent on looking for required forms and filling them in accordance with the law.
Other options for getting a divorce in PA, involving disputes over the division of property, the struggle for custody of children, and contesting alimony, can turn into year-long litigation for you. Among other things, such divorces are very expensive and emotionally difficult. There are often situations when, at the end of the contested divorce, neither party considers themselves the real winner in the case.