How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in PA?

Couple having problems, sitting at home, back to back.

Once you have decided to get a divorce, you probably want it done as quickly as possible. But divorce laws in Pennsylvania can be confusing. With “cooling off periods” and separation requirements, it can feel like your divorce will never be final. Find out how long it takes to get a divorce in Pennsylvania, and what you can do to speed up the process. Contact our family law attorneys at Berman & Associates to determine how long your divorce in PA might take.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to File a Separation Divorce in PA?

Most couples who get divorced in Pennsylvania choose a no-fault divorce option. Pennsylvania law allows couples to avoid airing their personal affairs in court and still receive a divorce when the “marriage is irretrievably broken.” But that doesn’t mean you can separate from your spouse one day and be divorced the next.

A separation divorce -- one of two types of no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania -- requires the couple to have lived separately and apart for at least 1 year. At the conclusion of this separation period, one spouse can file an affidavit saying the parties have separated and the marriage is irretrievably broken, along with their complaint for divorce, to get the divorce process started. At Berman & Associates, our divorce lawyers can help you make the most of your separation, so that you are ready to complete your divorce quickly and easily after the complaint is filed.

How Long Does a Mutual Consent Divorce in Pennsylvania Take?

Pennsylvania also allows for couples to file for a “mutual consent divorce.” This no-fault divorce option is reserved for couples who can work out their child custody, property, and support issues themselves -- with or without the help of divorce lawyers in PA. In a mutual consent divorce one party must file a Complaint in Divorce saying that the parties wish to be divorced following the “no-fault method”.

However, the mutual consent divorce process isn’t immediate, either. Pennsylvania divorce law includes a 90 day “cooling off” period after the filing of the Complaint and Service to the other party. That means once the Complaint and the Service of Process has been completed, the parties must wait three months before submitting their Affidavits of Consent. During this time, our divorce attorneys can help you reach a resolution with your spouse, so that you are ready to have your judgment entered once the cooling off period has expired.

How Long Does a No-Fault Divorce Case Take Once it is Filed?

The complaint for divorce marks the beginning of the divorce process, not the end. Your divorce could take months -- even years -- if you and your spouse cannot agree on issues such as:

This process will likely include discovery (where the parties’ divorce lawyers exchange information and answer questions), hearings in front of the judge, mediation, and informal meetings to attempt to resolve the outstanding issues in your case. At the end of all that, if there is no resolution to be had, your case will be scheduled for trial. Because of busy court schedules, it can take weeks or even months for your case to be heard. That is one reason why settlement is often the better option for couples looking to resolve their divorce quickly.

Are Fault-Based Divorces Faster than No-Fault Divorce?

Divorce laws in PA also include a number of fault based divorce options. Some of these have no waiting periods. Others take just as long or even longer to establish than a separation divorce. You can file a fault-based divorce complaint for:

  • Malicious desertion for at least 1 year
  • Adultery (with no waiting period)
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment (with no waiting period)
  • Bigamy (with no waiting period)
  • Imprisonment for a sentence of two or more years (with no waiting period upon conviction)
  • Indignities rendering life intolerable and burdensome (with no waiting period)
  • Institutionalization for insanity or a serious mental disorder for at least 18 months with the expectation of continuing inpatient care for another 18 months

It is true that many of these fault-based grounds for divorce allow you to file your complaint right away without waiting through a separation or cooling off period. However, that doesn’t mean they will be resolved more quickly. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you determine which route will be best for your case.

When a fault-based complaint for divorce is filed, the court must first determine if the grounds for divorce have been met. If they have, the court will allow the case to proceed just like a no-fault divorce, with all the same discovery and attempts at settlement. However, when allegations of fault are involved, it is often harder for both parties to come to a settlement they can agree on. This means that your fault-based divorce may take even longer, and will be more likely to go to trial, than if you had simply separated for a year and let cooler heads prevail.

At Berman & Associates, our experienced Pennsylvania family law attorneys know you don’t want your divorce to take any longer than it has to. We will help you choose the right process for filing your complaint for divorce, and assist in negotiating a fair and swift settlement. If settlement is impossible, we will help you prove your case, so that you receive what is fair and just from the judge. Contact us to speak with our divorce team and see how we can help with your family law matter.

Categories: Divorce, Family Law