Fault-Based vs. No Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania


Divorce can be a complicated and emotionally trying experience, with consequences that affect every part of your life. The first step in this process is to learn your available legal options and how the corresponding procedures work. You can then make informed decisions about how you wish to move forward and better work with your spouse to achieve your legal objectives.

The least complicated and arguably most beneficial route to take in this critical matter is through Pennsylvania’s no-fault divorce option. This option allows you and your spouse to maintain control over the many decisions you will have to make regarding all aspects of your divorce. It also provides many other benefits as well.

What Is a No-Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania?

A no-fault divorce is one in which both parties mutually agree to dissolve the marriage based on the contention that it is irretrievably broken and no possibility of reconciliation exists. This is often referred to as an “uncontested” divorce because of this mutual agreement.

In a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse will devise your own settlement terms as to all aspects of your divorce, such as:

  • How to divide and distribute any marital property
  • How to handle marital debts
  • Child custody and a parenting plan that will structure the details of visitation, vacations, holidays, and all other factors involving your parenting arrangement
  • An agreement concerning child support that adheres to Pennsylvania guidelines
  • Whether alimony shall be provided along with its terms

These factors will all be negotiated between you and your spouse without courtroom intervention.

Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce in PA

In a no-fault divorce, neither party is alleging any type of “fault,” such as various forms of marital misconduct. Thus, litigation is avoided. However, if you and your spouse find that you cannot agree on any aspect of your divorce settlement, your divorce will then become “contested,” which means a family law judge will be required to make a ruling based on the evidence you and your spouse present on the various issues of conflict.

In a PA at-fault divorce, you will be required to prove that your spouse’s misconduct is the reason for the end of the marriage. Pennsylvania provides various fault-based grounds, such as adultery, a history of domestic violence, desertion, conviction of a criminal offense, bigamy, or insanity. Your divorce attorney will have to provide evidence that you are the innocent and injured victim of such behavior while your spouse may contest the issue with his or her own evidence. This will involve time-consuming and expensive litigation, the emotional stress of courtroom contention, and loss of control over the terms of your divorce.

Benefits of a No-Fault Divorce in PA

Because neither you nor your spouse is alleging fault, which must be proven in court, your divorce becomes much simpler and easier to achieve.

The benefits of a no-fault divorce are as follows:

  • You and your spouse maintain control over the decisions regarding the various terms of your settlement agreement
  • Your negotiated terms are made privately as opposed to a public courtroom forum
  • It is less costly because litigation is avoided
  • Without having to adhere to courtroom schedules, the process takes much less time
  • The entire procedure is simplified and easier
  • It is more amicable for both parties and thus less stressful and traumatizing for everyone, especially children

Two options exist for a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania. No formal court hearing is needed in either option. The most common is the mutual agreement of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, as described above. If your spouse does not consent to this, the second option is to live continuously separate and apart for a one-year period. No-fault divorce in PA comes with a required 90-day waiting period after your documents are filed, after which the divorce is granted by the court.

At Law Office of Nikolas D. Capitano, The Leges Group LLC, we can help with accomplishing all your uncontested as well as contested divorce needs. To arrange for a intial consultation regarding your divorce, contact us at (610) 200-6665 today.