In many instances, one spouse wants a divorce and the other does not. What happens in this scenario depends on state laws and other factors. In a unilateral divorce, certain guidelines have to be followed. As long as the filing spouse follows the correct procedures, they can seek a final divorce without the other party’s consent.
In Pennsylvania, individuals can file for a no-fault or at-fault divorce. No-fault is when neither spouse holds responsibility for the end of the marriage. Most divorces in Pennsylvania fall into this category because it can cost more and take longer to prove that the other spouse acted in certain ways to damage the marriage. The acceptable reasons for at-fault divorces include abandonment, abuse, adultery, bigamy, and cruel and barbarous treatment. Other reasons may include when one spouse was incarcerated or institutionalized for certain periods of time.
What is the Unilateral Divorce Process?
Once the couple has been separated for a year, the spouse who wants the divorce can file an affidavit with the court. This spells out that the marriage is irretrievably broken and confirms the separation date. As long as the other spouse does not contest the separation date, the case can move forward to the required filings and the equitable distribution process.
The other spouse might be surprised to find out that the other party has filed a unilateral divorce affidavit. Ignoring it is not recommended because it can turn into a long and heated legal battle. It is best to respond by filing an answer form and counterclaim. This has to be done within a specified time period, which is usually within a month, and can include an agreement and requests for what is wanted from the divorce proceedings.
A qualified divorce lawyer can assist with the filing process as well as propose a parenting plan if the couple shares any children. A court hearing may follow, and this should be attended to by both spouses and their lawyers. If there are disagreements about when the couple separated or property division, the divorce could take longer to finalize.
Chester County Divorce Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Offer Legal Guidance in Unilateral Divorce Cases
If you need to end your marriage but your spouse is not cooperating, a unilateral divorce may be the best solution. Reach out to one of our knowledgeable Chester County divorce lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. for help with your divorce case. For a free consultation and to learn more about your options, call us at 610-565-3701 or contact us online. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.