Pennsylvania Fault Versus No-Fault Divorce

In Pennsylvania, a divorce can be filed either as a fault or no-fault divorce. As the terms imply, a fault-based divorce places the blame for the failure of the marriage on one spouse (for one or more specific reasons), while a no-fault divorce points to no specific reason for the marriage failing. However, if fault exists, you can still file under the no-fault provisions of the divorce code. If fact, in many cases, it’s more desirable to file no-fault, regardless of whether or not there is actually fault.

Fault Divorce

In a fault-based divorce, one spouse must prove that the other spouse is at fault for the failure of the marriage. In Pennsylvania, there are six grounds for fault, which include…

  • Willful & Malicious Desertion: When the defendant spouse has deserted and has remained absent from the plaintiff spouse for more than one year without cause.
  • Adultery: When the defendant spouse has engaged in sexual intercourse with someone other than his/her spouse.
  • Cruel & Barbarous Treatment: When the defendant spouse has endangered the life or health of the plaintiff spouse.
  • Bigamy: When the defendant spouse knowingly entered into marriage with the plaintiff spouse while a prior marriage continued.
  • Conviction of a Crime: When the defendant spouse has been convicted of a crime and imprisoned for more than a year.
  • Indignities: When the plaintiff spouse has consistently suffered verbal or physical abuse, neglect, ridicule, intentional incivility or other intolerable or burdensome conditions.


Fault-based divorce is now relatively uncommon in Pennsylvania. However, there are instances where it makes sense to pursue this type of divorce. It’s important to consult with an experienced attorney before filing a Divorce Complaint.

No-Fault Divorce

In Pennsylvania, a majority of divorces are filed through the no-fault, or mutual consent, divorce process. In this case, the marriage must be considered “irretrievably broken”, where there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation between spouses. When you and your spouse both consent to a divorce due to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, you may pursue a no-fault divorce, without regard to marital fault. In this situation, the divorce decree can be finalized in as little as 90 days after the Divorce Complaint is filed with the court.

A no-fault divorce is still an option when there is no mutual consent to divorce between both spouses. However, a one year waiting period is required before the divorce decree can be finalized.

Which Type Of Divorce Is Right For Your Situation?

Making the right decisions now, before you file for divorce, can save you a substantial amount of time, money and effort. We invite you to consult with one of our experienced divorce lawyers. At Saltzgiver & Boyle Family Law Attorneys, we take the time to fully understand your circumstances, develop effective strategies to help you achieve your desired outcome, and set you on the right path. Contact us today to schedule your consultation…