Dissolution Or Divorce: What’s The Difference?

elderly man and woman on opposite ends of a couch looking frustratedWhether you’re considering separation or you’re ready to file for divorce, it’s important to understand how the process works in Pennsylvania. At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices, our divorce attorneys believe in empowering clients with the knowledge they need to make practical decisions about any legal issues that may come their way.

Dissolution Vs. Divorce

So is there a difference between dissolution and divorce in Pennsylvania? The short answer is no. Although there are two basic categories of divorce in Pennsylvania, by definition, divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage.

Grounds For Divorce In Pennsylvania

Fault Divorce

In Pennsylvania, you may file for “fault” or “no-fault” divorce. A divorce on fault grounds involves proving that your spouse committed one or more of the following indignities:

  • Desertion without reasonable cause for a period of at least one year
  • Adultery
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment, including domestic violence or endangering the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse
  • The humiliation of the innocent spouse that makes the marriage intolerable
  • Bigamy
  • A spouse who has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of a crime

If your divorce is contested or filed on fault grounds, having an experienced attorney represent your interests is vital to make sure your rights are protected.

No-Fault Divorce

A no-fault divorce can help couples avoid the stress of a contentious court battle, and can often be resolved through mediation. In a no-fault divorce, either spouse can request a dissolution of their marriage based on the grounds of “irretrievable breakdown” or “irreconcilable differences,” which means they are unable to get along and the marriage is irreparably broken.

There are two types of no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania, which include:

Divorce by mutual consent: Courts may grant a divorce by mutual consent if 90 days have passed since the divorce action was filed and both parties give affidavits stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If you and your spouse choose to file for divorce by mutual consent, it’s critical to have an experienced family law attorney create a divorce settlement agreement, which sets forth the terms of the divorce, the responsibilities, and rights of each spouse, and the division of assets, property, and debts.

Irretrievable breakdown without mutual consent: When one spouse seeks a divorce, and the other doesn’t consent, the court may grant the divorce if a divorce complaint has been filed asserting that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Although there is no such thing as legal separation in Pennsylvania, the spouse pursuing a divorce has to file an affidavit stating the couple has lived separately for at least a year. The affidavit must then be served to the other spouse, who has 40 days to contest or argue for economic relief. If the served spouse does not respond within 40 days, the divorce can be finalized by one party. If a spouse contests the divorce or denies the separation, then the other spouse may have to file for a “fault” divorce.

How A Divorce Attorney Can Help

The dissolution of a marriage can be emotionally taxing, frustrating, and painful. A skilled divorce lawyer can guide you through the divorce process with compassion, help you understand your rights, and fight to protect your interests. If you and your spouse are at odds, your divorce attorney can handle negotiations with their attorney, which can cut down on stress and ensure you receive an equitable settlement. If children are involved, your attorney can also help with custody and support negotiations.

Contact Our Divorce Attorneys To Schedule A Consultation

If you are seeking a divorce, our knowledgeable attorneys can help you determine which type best fits your needs. We can also assist you with legal issues surrounding child custody, child support, spousal support, and other family law matters. Call Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices at 610-867-2900 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.


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