You may now be granted a divorce after just one, rather than two years, even if your spouse refuses to cooperate.
Pennsylvania has two “no-fault” grounds for divorce: Mutual Consent, and Irretrievable Breakdown. Mutual Consent requires the cooperation of the spouses. If the parties choose, a divorce can be fmalized after ninety days has passed from the date of separation. If, however, one of the parties refuses to cooperate, a divorce cannot go forward until the one year statutory period of separation has passed to establish an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Divorce is still not automatic after the one year has passed. In most cases, this change means that one spouse’s refusal to consent to divorce stops being a barrier against moving forward toward closure after one rather than two years.
The most obvious effect of this change is shortening the period in which one spouse may be obligated to provide support to his/her spouse before entry of a final decree. One party can file for divorce, but the other has no obligation to sign the consent forms that would let the divorce process move forward under Mutual Consent. Once the court requires one spouse to pay support to the other each month, there is often no motivation for the individual receiving support to cooperate with the divorce process. Many people stretch their advantage until their spouse can move things forward under the Irretrievable Breakdown ground. Prior to this change, a spouse receiving support and dependant upon it could refuse to execute the paperwork necessary to finalize a divorce and continue to collect for at least two years. That period is now cut in half.
For people paying spousal support, the reduced waiting period is good news. If, on the other hand, you are a Pennsylvania spouse who receives support, you now will have a much smaller period oftime before you can be compelled to actively participate in the process of working your way toward the economic resolution of your marriage.