If you plan on filing for divorce, you may be wondering how long the divorce process will take and what the quickest way to get divorced is. Our Philadelphia lawyers explain how long a Pennsylvania divorce can take in this blog.
How Long Does Divorce Take in PA?
In Pennsylvania a divorce can take anywhere from 90 days to a year (or more) depending on whether you filed uncontested vs. contested or on fault-based grounds and a variety of other factors.
No-Fault and Uncontested Divorce Timeline
Generally, uncontested, no-fault divorces take the least amount of time. When you file uncontested, you and the other party must agree on the terms of your divorce, including child custody, child support, alimony, and asset/debt division. While it may seem like agreeing on your divorce terms can take a long time, you can expedite the process if you have a marital agreement that already outlines these terms or consider divorce mediation, which involves working with a neutral, third party to reach a settlement.
Contested vs Uncontested divorce
On average, an uncontested divorce takes about four to six months. A contested divorce, however, can take five to twelve months as you are more reliant on the court’s schedule, have to present evidence and findings to the court, and can be delayed based on your attorney’s caseload and availability (as you will need their help with preparations, evidence collection, etc.).
Grounds for Divorce
The grounds under which you file for divorce can also impact your divorce timeline. Filing no-fault means that you are agreeing that your married is broken because of irreconcilable differences. To file for a no-fault divorce, both parties must consent to the divorce (which is referred to as a mutual consent divorce), or you will need to have been separated for at least two years. After filing no-fault, you will be subjected to a 90-day waiting period before a judge will sign off on the divorce.
Even with the waiting period, filing no-fault is quicker than filing on fault-based grounds (i.e. adultery, desertion, cruelty, bigamy, etc.). When you file on fault-based grounds, you will have to prove the claim by providing evidence in court. Thus, if you file on the grounds of cruel or inhumane treatment, you will have to prove this accusation, and the other party will have a chance to counter and disprove the claim. Again, you will be subject to the court schedule, which can slow down your divorce process, and fault-based divorces can also take longer as you need time to collect evidence and develop a case strategy.
Pros & Cons of an Uncontested Divorce
In addition to saving you a lot of time, filing for an uncontested divorce can also benefit you in the following ways.
- Uncontested divorces are often less expensive for couples.
- Uncontested divorces are typically more amicable and allow for couples to remain more cordial (or even friends).
- Uncontested divorces allow you to have more autonomy concerning your settlement rather than leaving a lot of important decisions up to the court.
- Uncontested divorces do not involve court hearings or trials, which could become public records, so you are afforded more privacy.
The potential downsides of an uncontested divorce are:
- Having to collaborate with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. If either party feels intimidated by or afraid of the other party, they will likely not want to work with them to reach an agreement. Couples who often fight or who parted on less than amicable terms may struggle to work together as well.
- Struggling to not fight. If you do not work with a mediator, you and/or the other party may struggle to reach a settlement agreement. While you both may want to reach an agreement, you may struggle to negotiate as your emotions run high.
Get Legal Help
At William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys, our attorney has over two decades of legal experience, and our firm can help you navigate your divorce. Whether you need help filing uncontested or with divorce mediation, our team can advise you of your legal options and help you make informed decisions throughout the process. If you or a loved one are looking for ways in which you can speed up your divorce or get divorced quickly, we can walk you through your options and help you protect your interests.