Should I Pursue A Fault-Based Divorce In Pennsylvania?
The law provides Pennsylvania residents with the ability to either file for divorce on the grounds of fault or no-fault. The vast majority of divorces are no-fault because they are cheaper and easier to file. There are precious few scenarios when filing for divorce on the grounds of fault is more beneficial than pursuing a no-fault divorce. For that reason, the vast majority of divorces in Pennsylvania are no-fault divorces regardless of how bad the marriage is. Some states no longer allow residents to pursue fault-based divorces. However, that doesn’t keep every divorce out of litigation.
The final point is important. In most cases, divorcees want to avoid litigation because of the cost. In some cases, it may be worth the cost of litigation. However, those cases are few and far between. Pennsylvania only makes it worth the effort to pursue a fault-based divorce when the question of alimony is in play. In other words, the only reason to pursue fault grounds is to collect more alimony than you would otherwise be entitled to under a no-fault agreement.
Grounds for fault in a Pennsylvania divorce
The law provides for several fault-based grounds a spouse can pursue in court. However, once you’re in the realm of making allegations, the process is going to take longer, be more expensive, and drag numerous friends and acquaintances into the process. So, ultimately, it has to be worth it.
An attorney may see the merit in litigation, as we tend to make more money the longer the divorce process takes, but we won’t necessarily see the merit for our client. The judge can consider fault-based grounds when awarding alimony and likely will in cases where a spouse can afford to pay. However, will you recover so much alimony that it will be worth the extended period of time it took to recover the judgment and the cost of arguing before the court?
Essentially, pure pragmatism weeds out any vestige of fault-based divorces under the law. Today, couples are more interested in having the matter behind them and moving forward with their lives than being in front of a judge or talking to lawyers on a weekly basis.
When do fault grounds make sense?
They can make sense in situations where there is a prenuptial agreement that may have been violated by one spouse’s conduct. In these situations, a spouse may be restricted from pursuing the assets of the other spouse. However, the court can vacate any agreement that leaves a spouse destitute. Hence, alimony becomes a way for the spouse to recover more than the prenuptial agreement allows, just not from the marital estate.
Ultimately, your lawyer needs to feel confident that the extra effort in time and money is worth whatever will be recovered in alimony.
Talk to a Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer Today
Lauren H. Kane represents the interests of Philadelphia residents seeking divorce. Call our Philadelphia divorce lawyers today to discuss your situation in more detail and we can begin providing you with a roadmap to the next chapter of your life.