The divorce rate reached an all time high in the 1970's due to the introduction of no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce meant that the parties could get a divorce without having to prove any wrong-doing in court. Essentially, all the parties have to do for a no-fault divorce is indicate the marriage is over. Prior to the influx of no-fault divorce, parties had to prove that the requirements for a fault divorce were met. Fault grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania include desertion, adultery, cruel and barbarous treatment, bigamy, imprisonment, and indignities. The majority of divorces will go through on the basis of no-fault since it is easier to litigate and often times there is no benefit in the outcome of the divorce to pursuing a fault ground for a divorce.
To move forward with a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania, the parties need only allege an "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage" and either consent to the divorce after a 90-day period or establish 2-year separation. A no-fault divorce can also be obtained if one of the spouses is institutionalized for a period of 18 months provided they will likely still be institutionalized 18 months following the commencement of the divorce. No-fault divorce became available in Pennsylvania in 1980 when the Divorce Code was revised. Originally, a separation period of three years was required but that has since been reduced to the two year separation period currently required.