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Different ways to divorce in Pennsylvania

You know you want a divorce, but do you know how you want to get the divorce? There is more than one way to do it in Pennsylvania, and understanding each type can help you know which approach is best for your situation.

Remember that regardless of the route you choose, you should have a family law attorney guide you through the process to save time and money and to reduce conflict.

Mutual consent

Mutual consent means that you both agree on getting a divorce. Pennsylvania allows for no-fault divorce, meaning you do not have to prove any fault of your spouse. The mutual consent to the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage is sufficient.

However, just because you agree to divorce does not mean it will be uncontested. You may still disagree on asset distribution, child support and custody. If you can cooperate, consider mediation or negotiation instead of litigation.

Fault divorce

In this case, you need to show that your spouse is at fault for one or more of these actions:

  •        Deserting you for no reason for a year or longer
  •        Cheating on you
  •        Treating you cruelly and endangering your health or life
  •        Committing bigamy
  •        Going to prison for two years or more upon a criminal conviction
  •        Making life completely intolerable (mental cruelty)

These can be very difficult to prove, making this choice less common. Further, if your ex commits a personal injury crime against you, mutual consent becomes implicit. The same applies to a spouse who has been in a mental institution for 18 months and will remain there for longer than another 18 months from the time of filing.


The last way to divorce is by separating from each other for at least one year before you file for divorce. Your spouse cannot deny that the marriage is unfixable and that you have not been living together. If so, the court will require a hearing to determine the possibility of reconciliation. If a judge thinks there is, you will have to go to counseling before the judge makes a final decision.