When a divorce is uncontested, both parties agree to the terms of the divorce for child custody, visitation, child support, property division and spousal support (if applicable). By contrast, in a contested divorce, parties cannot agree on the terms or conditions for divorce. They often have conflicts, despite having tried to settle them through mediation, negotiated settlement attempts or other types of alternative dispute resolution methods. This leaves them with the last resort of taking their case to trial. Most couples want to avoid litigation, if at all possible, because it is expensive, time-consuming and stressful.
Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 3301, there are two ways to obtain a no-fault divorce:
- Irretrievable breakdown (of the marriage) where parties have lived separate and apart for at least two years
- Mutual consent where parties allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed since filing the affidavit for divorce
A no-fault divorce is much simpler than a fault-based divorce, because it avoids legal complexities. A fault-based divorce typically involves proving one or more grounds that blame the other spouse for the marriage breakdown — adultery, cruel and barbarous treatment, bigamy, imprisonment or indignities that made the situation intolerable and life burdensome. Fault-based divorces are more prone to adversarial courtroom battles, which once again involves contention, waiting for trial dates, lengthy court room sessions and litigation expense.
When considering divorce, it is worth your while to discuss all your options with your lawyer and make sure you understand what various approaches involve.
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