Currently, no. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not recognize “common law” marriages entered into after Jan. 2, 2005Back To Top
Pennsylvania Divorce FAQ
Can a couple become legally married by living together as man and wife under the state’s laws (common law marriage)?
Yes. In Pennsylvania, annulment is the manner in which invalid marriages are terminated. A marriage is invalid, for instance, if either party was incapable of consenting to marriage by reason of insanity, or if either party was, at the time of the purported marriage, validly married to another person.Back To Top
Although a non-attorney could theoretically handle their own divorce, it is usually best to let a licensed professional handle the matter. Domestic litigation is rife with legal nuances that, if unknown or not understood, could put a non-attorney at a disadvantage when handling their own case.Back To Top
It depends. The cost of divorce is entirely case specific. If the parties have many assets and debts to evaluate for distribution, it can be a fairly long, complicated and expensive process.
Additionally, Pennsylvania employs a trifurcated system, meaning that divorce, custody and support can be handled at different times. If your case involves all three, it will be more expensive to litigate.Back To Top
In Pennsylvania, divorce is divided into two categories: “fault” and “no fault.” A divorce on fault grounds requires that the plaintiff prove that he or she is the innocent and injured spouse and that the other spouse is guilty of one of six categories of marital misconduct: adultery, desertion, cruel and barbarous treatment, bigamy, imprisonment for a crime, and indignities.
A divorce based on no-fault grounds must assert that the marriage is irretrievably broken.Back To Top
In Pennsylvania, maintenance is available to the financially dependent spouse at different stages of the divorce proceedings. Prior to the divorce being filed it is termed “spousal support.”
After filing and during divorce proceedings, support is termed “alimony pendente lite,” a Latin phrase meaning “alimony pending litigation.” After the entry of a final divorce decree, support is available in the form of “alimony.”Back To Top
Custody can be modified at any time at the initiation of either party, keeping in mind that the paramount consideration for determining custody is the best interest of the child.
A change in circumstances is not required to modify a custody order, however, it may be unlikely to obtain a change in the schedule if there has been no change in circumstances.Back To Top
Yes. In Pennsylvania, the Grandparents Visitation Act provides grandparents with automatic standing to bring a petition for physical and legal custody of a grandchild. If it is in the best interest of the child not to be in the custody of either parent and if it is in the best interest of the child to be in the custody of the grandparent, the court may award physical and legal custody to the grandparent.
This applies to grandparents who (1) have genuine care and concern for the child; (2) whose relationship with the child began with the consent of a parent of the child or pursuant to an order of court; and (3) who for 12 months has assumed the role and responsibilities of the child’s parent.
Grandparents may also petition for partial custody and visitation. If an unmarried child has resided with his grandparents for a period of 12 months or more and is subsequently removed from the home by his parents, the grandparents may petition the court for an order granting them reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the child. This custody may not interfere with the parent-child relationship.
It is also important to note that the time frame cannot be met by having the child and parent living with grandparents.Back To Top
Possibly. Support obligations are determined by calculating the disparity in parties’ incomes. If a child spends 40% or more overnights per year with a noncustodial parent, a rebuttable presumption exists that the noncustodial parent is entitled to a reduction in their child support obligation.
If the parties have equally shared custody there may not be a support order if their incomes are substantially the same. If one parent makes more money than the other, there will generally be an order for child support even if the parties equally share custody.Back To Top
Joint physical custody, also called shared custody, is an arrangement where custody is shared by both parents in such a manner that assures both parents have continuous contact with the child. It is important to note that parties can share custody and not have equal time with the child. Parents may have shared physical and legal custody.
Generally, even if one party has primary physical custody the parties will share legal custody, or the right to make decisions for the child. Sole custody is the award of both physical and legal custody of the child to one parent. Sole physical custody is rarely granted.Back To Top
Long-standing law in Pennsylvania is that the most important consideration when determining custody is the best interest of the child. To determine the child’s best interests, the court must look at all factors that legitimately impact the child physically, intellectually, morally and spiritually.
The court will take many factors into account to make this determination, including but not limited to the child’s preference, custody arrangements of sibling, which party has typically been the primary caretaker, etc.Back To Top
Parties wishing to initiate a divorce action in Pennsylvania must establish residence in the state at least six months prior to the initiation of the action.Back To Top
A party must wait for two full years of separation from their spouse, and then may proceed with filing a unilateral divorce.Back To Top