Faster Divorce Possible Now in Pennsylvania

Q: How long is the waiting period for a unilateral no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania and when does the period begin?

For couples that want to divorce in Pennsylvania, the good news is that the waiting period for a unilateral no-fault divorce was recently reduced from two years to one year – – so you can move on with your life after divorce a little faster than before.


The key to how fast you can divorce lies in the date of separation of the couple. And that date is not always easy to determine. In fact, couples may not even be in agreement as to what day they first “officially” separated. A skilled Pennsylvania divorce attorney knows what factors are considered when determining the date of separation and whether there would be an advantage to establishing an earlier date if possible.

Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize “legal separation”, but the date the parties first separated impacts such important things as whether certain property will be included or excluded from the marital estate (which is a factor in the equitable distribution and division of marital assets) and also the length of the marriage (which is a factor in alimony/spousal support determinations).  

For financial and/or other reasons– which may or may not include carrying on as normally as possible for the sake of their children– couples may live “separate and apart” while still living under one roof. (Historically, couples living under one roof could not be considered to be separated). So each situation must be examined individually when determining when separation first began.

Some of the factors the court will consider when determining the date of separation include but are not limited to the following:

  • “the amount of time the parties spend at the marital residence
  • whether they sleep in the same room
  • whether they ate meals together
  • whether they took vacations and outings together for their own benefit or that of their children
  • whether they gave the appearance that everything was fine only for their children’s sake
  • whether they lived separate lives
  • whether they had sexual relations.”

Barring evidence that shows otherwise, the parties will be presumed to have legally separated on the day the divorce complaint is filed.

If you are considering divorce, you should consult a skilled family law attorney as soon as possible so you can take the necessary steps to put yourself in the best position heading into a divorce proceeding. The Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. has been serving the family law needs of clients in Reading, Pennsylvania and the surrounding counties for over 25 years. Call us today at 610-816-6366 to schedule a consultation.