31. Preliminary Provisions
33. Dissolution of Marital Status
35. Property Rights
37. Alimony and Support
Enactment. Part IV was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.
Construction. See section 5 of Act 206 of 1990 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to construction of Divorce Code.
3101. Short title of part.
3102. Legislative findings and intent.
3104. Bases of jurisdiction.
3105. Effect of agreement between parties.
3106. Premarital agreements.
Enactment. Chapter 31 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.
§ 3101. Short title of part.
This part shall be known and may be cited as the Divorce Code.
§ 3102. Legislative findings and intent.
(a) Policy.--The family is the basic unit in society and the protection and preservation of the family is of paramount public concern. Therefore, it is the policy of the Commonwealth to:
(1) Make the law for legal dissolution of marriage effective for dealing with the realities of matrimonial experience.
(2) Encourage and effect reconciliation and settlement of differences between spouses, especially where children are involved.
(3) Give primary consideration to the welfare of the family rather than the vindication of private rights or the punishment of matrimonial wrongs.
(4) Mitigate the harm to the spouses and their children caused by the legal dissolution of the marriage.
(5) Seek causes rather than symptoms of family disintegration and cooperate with and utilize the resources available to deal with family problems.
(6) Effectuate economic justice between parties who are divorced or separated and grant or withhold alimony according to the actual need and ability to pay of the parties and insure a fair and just determination and settlement of their property rights.
(b) Construction of part.--The objectives set forth in subsection (a) shall be considered in construing provisions of this part and shall be regarded as expressing the legislative intent.
§ 3103. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this part shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Alimony." An order for support granted by this Commonwealth or any other state to a spouse or former spouse in conjunction with a decree granting a divorce or annulment.
"Alimony pendente lite." An order for temporary support granted to a spouse during the pendency of a divorce or annulment proceeding.
"Convicted." Having been found guilty, having entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or having been accepted into Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.
"Divorce." Divorce from the bonds of matrimony.
"Grounds for divorce." The grounds enumerated in section 3301 (relating to grounds for divorce).
"Irretrievable breakdown." Estrangement due to marital difficulties with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
"Personal injury crime." An act that constitutes a misdemeanor or felony under any of the following, or criminal attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit any of the following:
18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 25 (relating to criminal homicide).
18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 27 (relating to assault).
18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 29 (relating to kidnapping).
18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 30 (relating to human trafficking).
18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 31 (relating to sexual offenses).
18 Pa.C.S. § 3301 (relating to arson and related offenses).
18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 37 (relating to robbery).
18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 49 Subch. B (relating to victim and witness intimidation).
75 Pa.C.S. § 3732 (relating to homicide by vehicle).
75 Pa.C.S. § 3742 (relating to accidents involving death or personal injury).
"Qualified professionals." Includes marriage counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, ministers, priests, rabbis or other persons who, by virtue of their training and experience, are able to provide counseling.
"Separate and apart." Cessation of cohabitation, whether living in the same residence or not. In the event a complaint in divorce is filed and served, it shall be presumed that the parties commenced to live separate and apart not later than the date that the complaint was served.
"Spousal support." Care, maintenance and financial assistance.
(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days; Apr. 21, 2016, P.L.166, No.24, eff. 60 days)
2016 Amendment. Act 24 added the defs. of "convicted" and "personal injury crime."
2004 Amendment. Act 175 amended the def. of "separate and apart." Section 5(1) of Act 175 provided that the amendment shall apply to complaints served before, on or after the effective date of par. (1).
Cross References. Section 3103 is referred to in section 5948 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure).
§ 3104. Bases of jurisdiction.
(a) Jurisdiction.--The courts shall have original jurisdiction in cases of divorce and for the annulment of void or voidable marriages and shall determine, in conjunction with any decree granting a divorce or annulment, the following matters, if raised in the pleadings, and issue appropriate decrees or orders with reference thereto, and may retain continuing jurisdiction thereof:
(1) The determination and disposition of property rights and interests between spouses, including any rights created by any antenuptial, postnuptial or separation agreement and including the partition of property held as tenants by the entireties or otherwise and any accounting between them, and the order of any spousal support, alimony, alimony pendente lite, counsel fees or costs authorized by law.
(2) The future care, custody and visitation rights as to children of the marriage or purported marriage.
(3) Any support or assistance which shall be paid for the benefit of any children of the marriage or purported marriage.
(4) Any property settlement involving any of the matters set forth in paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) as submitted by the parties.
(5) Any other matters pertaining to the marriage and divorce or annulment authorized by law and which fairly and expeditiously may be determined and disposed of in such action.
(b) Residence and domicile of parties.--No spouse is entitled to commence an action for divorce or annulment under this part unless at least one of the parties has been a bona fide resident in this Commonwealth for at least six months immediately previous to the commencement of the action. Both parties shall be competent witnesses to prove their respective residence, and proof of actual residence within this Commonwealth for six months shall create a presumption of domicile within this Commonwealth.
(c) Powers of court.--The court has authority to entertain an action under this part notwithstanding the fact that the marriage of the parties and the cause for divorce occurred outside of this Commonwealth and that both parties were at the time of the occurrence domiciled outside this Commonwealth. The court also has the power to annul void or voidable marriages celebrated outside this Commonwealth at a time when neither party was domiciled within this Commonwealth.
(d) Foreign forum.--After the dissolution or annulment of a marriage in a foreign forum where a matter under subsection (a) has not been decided, a court of this Commonwealth shall have jurisdiction to determine a matter under subsection (a) to the fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States.
(e) Venue.--A proceeding for divorce or annulment may be brought in the county:
(1) where the defendant resides;
(2) if the defendant resides outside of this Commonwealth, where the plaintiff resides;
(3) of matrimonial domicile, if the plaintiff has continuously resided in the county;
(4) prior to six months after the date of final separation and with agreement of the defendant, where the plaintiff resides or, if neither party continues to reside in the county of matrimonial domicile, where either party resides; or
(5) after six months after the date of final separation, where either party resides.
Suspension by Court Rule. Section 3104(e) was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1920.91, as amended May 5, 1997, insofar as it applies to the practice and procedure in actions for divorce or annulment of marriage.
§ 3105. Effect of agreement between parties.
(a) Enforcement.--A party to an agreement regarding matters within the jurisdiction of the court under this part, whether or not the agreement has been merged or incorporated into the decree, may utilize a remedy or sanction set forth in this part to enforce the agreement to the same extent as though the agreement had been an order of the court except as provided to the contrary in the agreement.
(b) Certain provisions subject to modification.--A provision of an agreement regarding child support, visitation or custody shall be subject to modification by the court upon a showing of changed circumstances.
(c) Certain provisions not subject to modification.--In the absence of a specific provision to the contrary appearing in the agreement, a provision regarding the disposition of existing property rights and interests between the parties, alimony, alimony pendente lite, counsel fees or expenses shall not be subject to modification by the court.
§ 3106. Premarital agreements.
(a) General rule.--The burden of proof to set aside a premarital agreement shall be upon the party alleging the agreement to be unenforceable. A premarital agreement shall not be enforceable if the party seeking to set aside the agreement proves, by clear and convincing evidence, that:
(1) the party did not execute the agreement voluntarily; or
(2) the party, before execution of the agreement:
(i) was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party;
(ii) did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided; and
(iii) did not have an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
(b) Definition.--As used in this section, the term "premarital agreement" means an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.
(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days)
2004 Amendment. Act 175 added section 3106. Section 5(2) of Act 175 provided that section 3106 shall apply to premarital agreements executed on or after the effective date of par. (2).