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Could Pennsylvania shorten its 2-year wait on unilateral divorce?

Divorce is difficult enough as it is, but in Pennsylvania, divorce can be even more difficult when one or the other spouse does not want to end the marriage. Believe it or not, there is a two-year long waiting time before a spouse can proceed with a no-fault, unilateral divorce. This waiting period can be difficult for children, the family and both spouses. Meanwhile, for consenting spouses, grounds for divorce can be established after just 90 days.

There can be a lot of reasons why a spouse will try to contest a divorce. Those include financial dependence, anger and the wish to inflict pain on the other spouse. In other cases, the non-consenting spouse may simply be desperate to save the marriage.

Supposedly, this two-year long waiting period was to increase the chances of reconciling and repairing an endangered marriage. However, there does not appear to be in any proof that the two-year delay actually helps promote reconciliation.

Most spouses never turn to divorce unless it is a last resort. A long period of waiting is simply unnecessary, and now, the Pennsylvania legislature might be about to agree with this notion. House Bill 380 proposes to reduce the amount of time it takes to establish grounds in a unilateral, no-fault divorce. The bill proposes to lessen the waiting time down to one year instead of two. The house already passed the measure last November, and next, it is expected to be submitted to the Senate for a vote.

Any piece of legislation that makes divorce a less stressful and time consuming process for Pennsylvania residents is to be commended. Indeed, reducing stress on the family, reducing cost and reducing time should be the key goals for all parties involved in any divorce proceeding.

Source:, "In Pa., shorten waiting period needed for divorce," Mary Cushing Dougherty, accessed March 18, 2016

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