Deciding it is time for you and your spouse to go your separate ways is not always something that happens overnight. Over time, the marriage may erode to the degree that renders you both incapable of changing it.

When it is clear that divorce is the only path, you should know the basics about what to expect and how to get the process started. Before the proceedings can begin, you need to have an idea about how you want to handle certain elements.

No-fault versus fault

The divorce laws in Pennsylvania make it possible to decide if you want to mutually claim your marriage is beyond repair (no-fault) or if you want to try to prove the marriage is ending because of your spouse’s actions (fault). Actions such as these may constitute fault:

  • Infidelity
  • Bigamy
  • Abuse
  • Desertion
  • Addiction

If you can show your spouse caused the marriage to fail, you may come out ahead.

Waiting period and residency

To file for a divorce in Pennsylvania, at least one spouse has to have lived in the state for a minimum of six consecutive months before the split. The action should go to the clerk of court in the county where you or your spouse live. No law in the state says a couple has to live apart before filing. However, you do have to wait 90 days if filing for a no-contest divorce to become finalized.

Spousal support

Alimony is a way for the spouse with more income to assist the other after divorce. This is one way the court equals out income disparity between the parties, primarily if one stayed home to raise children while the other continued working. The court determines the length of time of the required payments, although judges typically use the length of the union and the contribution of each party to the marriage. If the court finds one spouse at fault, it may affect the alimony award.

Divorce can try even the most resilient person. Understand before it starts that getting the help you need in this difficult time is essential to your short- and long-term success.