In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the legislature has provided the following grounds for divorce: (a) Fault; (b) Institutionalization; (c) Mutual Consent; or (d) Irretrievable Breakdown. (23 Pa.C.S. §3301).
There are six (6) fault grounds for divorce. The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse when the other spouse 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. 23 Pa.C.S. §3301(a)(1)
(2) committed adultery, 23 Pa.C.S. §3301(a)(2). However, it is a good defense and a perpetual bar against an action for divorce on the grounds of adultery if the defendant alleges and proves, or if it appears in the evidence, that the plaintiff (a) has been guilty of like conduct; (b) has admitted the defendant into conjugal society or embraces after the plaintiff knew of the adultery; (c) allowed the defendant’s prostitution or received hire from it; or (d) exposed the defendant to lewd company whereby the defendant became involved in the adultery. 23 Pa.C.S. §3307
(3) by cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse. 23 Pa.C.S. §3301(a)(3)
(4) knowingly entering into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting. 23 Pa.C.S. §3301(a)(4)
(5) been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime. 23 Pa.C.S. §3301(a)(5)
(6) offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome. 23 Pa.C.S. §3301(a)(6)
The court may grant a divorce from a spouse upon the ground that insanity or serious mental disorder has resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of an action under this part and where there is no reasonable prospect that the spouse will be discharged from inpatient care during the 18 months subsequent to the commencement of the action. A presumption that no prospect of discharge exists shall be established by a certificate of the superintendent of the institution to that effect and which includes a supporting statement of a treating physician.
The court may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action under this part and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce. 23 Pa.C.S. §3301(c)
The court may grant a divorce where a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken and an affidavit has been filed alleging that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the defendant either (i) does not deny the allegations set forth in the affidavit; or (ii) denies one or more of the allegations set forth in the affidavit but, after notice and hearing, the court determines that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. 23 Pa.C.S. §3301(d)
When the grounds for divorce are indignities or mutual consent, the court is required to order up to a maximum of three (3) counseling sessions where either of the parties requests it.
When the grounds for divorce is irretrievable breakdown and the court determines that there is a reasonable prospect of reconciliation and orders a continuation period, the court is required to order up to a maximum of three (3) counseling sessions during the continuation period where either party requests it, and may require counseling where the parties have at least one child under 16 years of age. 23 Pa.C.S. §3302.
In all cases where a supposed or alleged marriage has been contracted which is void or voidable by law, either party may bring an action in annulment to have it declared void. 23 Pa.C.S. §3303. The grounds for annulment of void marriages (23 Pa.C.S. §3304) and voidable marriages (23 Pa.C.S. §3305) are specified by statute. However, in the cases of marriages which are voidable, the marriage shall be valid until a decree of annulment is obtained from a court of competent jurisdiction, and is not subject to attack or question by any person if it is subsequently confirmed by the parties to the marriage or if either party has died. 23 Pa.C.S. §3305(b).
With preeminent and distinguished legal reputations and each attorney with nearly 40 years of trial experience and success in handling all types of family law matters, Attorneys Fredrick E. Charles and Dennis G. Charles are second to none when it comes to guarding your legal rights and winning the money damages you deserve. If you, or a family member, have questions concerning divorce, equitable distribution of marital assets, spousal support, alimony, alimony pendente lite, child custody, prenuptial contracts, protection from abuse, or other family law matters, give Charles Law Offices a call at 610-437-7064, or fill out the screen questionnaire. Our staff of highly trained, knowledgeable and experienced attorneys is here 24/7 to guide you through this troubled time, and help you with all of your family law questions and issues.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with a lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the attorneys at Charles Law Offices.
The Charles Brothers’ devotion to the law is derived from a family history in the legal system and of service to others. Their father, Charles “Chink” Charles (depicted in the lower left-hand corner of the photograph) held a 35 year career in law enforcement, and was selected to serve as the personal bodyguard for former United States Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson during their campaign visits to Allentown.