If you’re considering getting a divorce, you’ve likely heard the terms “fault grounds,” and “irreconcilable differences,” but what do they mean and how do they influence divorce proceedings? Read this blog and reach out to the dedicated Pennsylvania divorce lawyers at Berman Voss to learn more. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What Are Fault Grounds in Pennsylvania?

Fault grounds are specific reasons one spouse can formally accuse the other of causing the marriage’s failure. Pennsylvania law recognizes several such grounds, encapsulated in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 23, Section 3301(a).

These include the following:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment without reasonable cause for at least one year
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment endangering the life or health of the accusing spouse
  • Incarceration for two or more years
  • Bigamy

How Does Fault Impact Divorce Proceedings?

While citing fault grounds can potentially influence various aspects of divorce proceedings, such as alimony, you should consider potential drawbacks as well.

Establishing fault requires substantial evidence, which can prolong the divorce process. Unlike no-fault divorces, where the parties may simply cite irreconcilable differences, fault divorces necessitate proof of wrongdoing. Gathering this evidence often involves detailed legal discovery, including document requests, depositions, and possibly court hearings. This not only extends the timeline of the divorce but also increases legal fees and court costs.

Moreover, pursuing a fault-based divorce can escalate conflicts, which might otherwise be resolved amicably. This escalation can be particularly detrimental if children are involved, as prolonged legal battles can exacerbate emotional distress for all parties. Berman Voss emphasizes the importance of considering the emotional and financial well-being of the entire family when deciding whether to pursue fault grounds.

Additionally, while fault may influence the court’s decisions on alimony, property division, and potentially child custody, the actual benefits of citing fault can be unpredictable. The court has wide discretion in these matters, and the outcome may not always justify the additional time and expense involved in proving fault. In some cases, the pursuit of fault grounds may not result in significantly more favorable terms for the accusing spouse, particularly if the marital estate is limited or if the primary concern is ensuring a stable environment for any children involved.

For this reason, if you’re considering getting a divorce, you should hire a competent team of attorneys to assess your situation and advise on the best route forward. Often, deciding not to file fault grounds is the smartest move, even if you believe your spouse is truly at fault.

If you have further questions or would like to speak with an attorney, please don’t hesitate to contact Berman Voss today.