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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 13, 2015 02:30 PM
From: Representative Tarah Toohil
To: All House members
Subject: Reducing the length of time for a no fault divorce based on separation from two (2) years to one (1) year.
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation, formerly HB2517 2013/14, that would reduce the length of time for a no fault divorce based on separation. Currently, under §3301(d) of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code, the waiting time is two (2) years from the date of separation after which divorce litigants are permitted to start the process to divide their assets and determine whether alimony is owed. My legislation will propose reducing that mandatory waiting period to one (1) year.

My legislation is based upon the following:
  • Reducing the length of time will reduce turmoil for many children who live with great uncertainty regarding the future while their family is in limbo. Uncertainties include such matters as future custody schedules, housing arrangements, and school placement. The parents who have unresolved divorce issues often are not learning the special challenges of co-parenting as a divorced couple.
  • Prolonging the divorce for two years until the parties can start the process of addressing their economic issues usually means resolution occurs three to five years after the divorce is filed. This increases the legal costs for the represented parties, forces many to proceed without an attorney, escalates the level of litigation and conflict between the parties, and causes additional strain and costs on an already overcrowded court system.
  • The perceived economic benefits of the two (2) year waiting period for a dependent spouse is not the reality. The length of alimony received after the divorce is finalized, is generally reduced by the duration of support paid from separation to date of final decree.
In our surrounding states, the following waiting periods have been established:
Delaware = 6 months
New York = 1 year
Ohio = 1 year
West Virginia = 1 year
Maryland = 1 year
New Jersey = 6 months

This legislation is supported by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
I hope you will join me in supporting this legislation.

Previous co-sponsors: Lucas, Schlossberg, McGeehan, Regan, Watson, Cutler, Davis, Millard, Marshall, Thomas, Cohen, C. Harris, M. Daley, Caltagirone, McCarter, D. Costa, Stephens, Dean, Petri, Gingrich, Delozier, Swanger, Mullery and Briggs.

Introduced as HB380