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Timeline for Pennsylvania Divorce: Schedule and Waiting Period

Finding the courage to get a divorce isn’t a one-minute business. Largely, a divorce procedure is covered in mysteries for those who’s never been on this side of marriage. From where to begin to how long it will last, people often get stuck confused. Scared to take the first step, they drag their broken relationship on. But clearly, things can be easier if you have an idea of what to expect. 

If you’re planning to divorce in Pennsylvania soon, learning a divorce timeline would be wise. This will help you prepare emotionally and develop a winning divorce strategy based on how much time you have. To make it a little easier for you, we’ve prepared a summary of the divorce timeline in Pennsylvania in this article. Here, we also explain why some divorces are longer than others and what factors can influence the length of your individual case. 

To start, let’s learn what types of divorces there are in Pennsylvania.

Different Types of PA Divorces

Officially, there are 4 different types of divorces you can find in Pennsylvania. They are an uncontested or a mutual consent divorce, a divorce after living apart, a divorce due to one spouse being a mental facility patient, and a fault divorce. All of them vary in paper requirements, the complexity of processes, as well as divorce timelines. 

How long does a divorce take in PA? This will depend on which type of divorce you decide to go through. Other influencing factors are minor children, availability of the court, your lawyer’s competence, as well as your attentiveness, efficiency, and punctuality. Normally, a divorce takes around 6-7 months to finalize. Equally, your divorce timeline may be shorter or longer depending on your individual circumstances. 

Let’s take a closer look at different divorce processes. 

Mutual Consent Divorce

A no-fault divorce, this type of marriage dissolution is the least troublesome in PA. 

No-fault divorce in PA: how long does it take? 

Couples usually need as little as barely 4 months to end their marital relationship, let alone that the process can cost them as little as only around $500. The process could have been shorter if it allowed online filing and wasn’t fraught by a mandatory PA waiting period. For now, however, PA online divorce is only the name of the service some websites provide. They can help you out with completing the papers you may struggle with. But you will still need to print them out and submit them to the court in person, which still takes time.

As for the waiting period, the state gives all divorcees 90 days for reconciliation after they file the papers. If it’s not reached by then, a divorce process will be set in motion. 

To get a mutual consent divorce, spouses must consent in all marriage-related disputes they may have, including the willingness to part ways. 

Divorce After Separation

Divorce after separation is a petitioner’s no-fault response to the spouse who doesn’t want a divorce. If you can’t dissolve a marriage on uncontested grounds but you really mean to get a divorce, you can separate for a year and use this reason as proof of an irretrievably broken marriage later. 

Your mere word, however, won’t be enough to prove that you’ve been separated from your partner for a required period of time. A court will need documentary evidence and witness testimonials to confirm the truthfulness of your claims. Therefore, make sure that you collect papers and bills that can prove your separate living, as well as that you don’t seek casual encounters with your ex. 

It’s hard to count the average duration of such a process as it will depend on many factors. All we know is that you’ll definitely need a year of separation and as much time as you need to solve your divorce issues in court. In a nutshell, it can take from 1.5 years to almost an infinity. 

Divorce Due to Institutionalization

In PA, people can also divorce if they prove that their spouse has been a mental hospital patient for 18 months who isn’t going to come out for another year and a half. In this case, the divorce process duration will depend on how fast you can collect and submit the documents, as well as on the availability of the court. Normally, you’ll need around 4-6 months to finalize such a divorce. 

Contested Divorce

Everything is much more complicated with contested divorces as it depends on the ability of both spouses to reach a consensus. It can take days or years, and no one can ever define an accurate amount of time required for your case. 

Fault divorces are also fraught with the necessity to find and provide evidence of a spouse’s fault, which isn’t easy. Parties and their lawyers may often blackmail or bribe witnesses, destroy evidence, give evasive replies, and sabotage the process in million other ways. Such litigations can take years to finalize the case. And even then, a successful result, i.e. a divorce, isn’t guaranteed. 

A no-fault contested divorce can also have different outcomes in terms of duration. For instance, your spouse may slow down the divorce by evading the service of process or delaying filing the answer. If it’s so, it will add another few months to the total duration.

Alternatively, they may disagree on every term you’ve mentioned in the petition. It may require numerous negotiations between attorneys, mediation, or a divorce counselor’s assistance to come to terms. If you have minor children, their issues will also need attention. And again, everything will depend on your willingness to find a common ground sooner. 

Bottom Line

So, how long does the average divorce take in PA? Statistically, around 6 to 9 months. But as you see, many factors can influence this number. The luckiest couples could end their relationship in as little as only 3 months and a few days. Others, however, had to fight 7 years in court.