A brief overview of a Mutual Consent Divorce.
The fastest and cheapest way to get divorced is with a no fault divorce. There are several ways to get divorced. One can get divorced on no fault grounds, or fault grounds, or on both no fault and fault grounds.
If, you and you soon to be ex-spouse are in mutual agreement that you both want a divorce, as long as you are in agreement about everything, than a Mutual Consent divorce is the way to go.
It is no secret that attorneys get paid for their work. But, remember, in the realm of Family Law, the more one fights, the more it costs.
Courts do not like to grant divorces, when property issues are not settled—Equitable Distribution, a blog for another day.
For a Mutual Consent divorce, with no other issues, one must first file a complaint seeking a no fault divorce on the ground of Mutual Consent, and usually always adding the ground of irretrievable breakdown and serve it by sending the complaint certified mail and regular mail, or have your soon to be ex-spouse sign an affidavit of service accepting service then file the form, a certificate of service, with the prothonotary. No answer is needed, since all averments, in the Family Law arena are deemed denied.
Both parties must wait ninety (90) days after the complaint was filed and served then file their Affidavit of Consent for Mutual Consent divorces. Usually a Notice of intention to request entry of divorce decree, which must be served on the other party, or file a Waiver of Notice of intention to request entry of divorce decree, is filed along with the Affidavit of Consent.
If, both parties chooses to file the Waiver of Notice of intention to request entry of divorce decree, no service is necessary and the one who initially filed the complaint, would then transmit the record along with an Order for a Decree of divorce and once the Judge signs off, you are divorced.
Depending on what county you live, there may be additional steps to take under the local rules before a Mutual Consent divorce is granted.
Besides Mutual Consent there are several grounds or divorce. There are six grounds for a fault divorce, and one can also state more than one ground for divorce if necessary.
The fault divorce grounds are
“(a) Fault.–The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has:
(1) Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years.
(2) Committed adultery.
(3) By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse.
(4) Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting.
(5) Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime.
(6) Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.” See 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301 (a) Fault.
The no fault grounds for divorces are:
“(b) Institutionalization.–The court may grant a divorce from a spouse upon the ground that insanity or serious mental disorder has resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of an action under this part and where there is no reasonable prospect that the spouse will be discharged from inpatient care during the 18 months subsequent to the commencement of the action. A presumption that no prospect of discharge exists shall be established by a certificate of the superintendent of the institution to that effect and which includes a supporting statement of a treating physician.
(c) Mutual consent.–The court may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action under this part and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce.
(d) Irretrievable breakdown.–
(1) The court may grant a divorce where a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken and an affidavit has been filed alleging that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the defendant either:
(i) Does not deny the allegations set forth in the affidavit.
(ii) Denies one or more of the allegations set forth in the affidavit but, after notice and hearing, the court determines that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
(2) If a hearing has been held pursuant to paragraph (1)(ii) and the court determines that there is a reasonable prospect of reconciliation, then the court shall continue the matter for a period not less than 90 days nor more than 120 days unless the parties agree to a period in excess of 120 days. During this period, the court shall require counseling as provided in section 3302 (relating to counseling). If the parties have not reconciled at the expiration of the time period and one party states under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall grant the divorce. Otherwise, the court shall deny the divorce.” See 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301 (b)(c)(d).
Once grounds for divorce under a Mutual Consent, or Irretrievable breakdown is established, no hearing is required and the divorce will be granted. See 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301 (e)
As stated previously, the fastest cheapest divorce is a Mutual Consent divorce with no other issues or with all issues settled. The more you fight, the more it costs.
It is your choice to do it yourself, but it is always better to get an attorney…