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One Step Closer to Shorter Divorces

Last November the House voted for the passage of Bill 380 which proposes amending Section 3301(d) of the Divorce Code to allow divorce on the basis of separation for a one year period as opposed to the current law which requires a two year separation period. Presently House Bill 380 is in the Senate and still pending a decision as of May 2016. There are several reasons for reducing the waiting period for divorce according to supporters of the Bill. First, reducing the duration for divorce will reduce the turmoil for minor children. There is consensus in the psychological field that continued conflict of the parents is the primary influence on the well-being, or lack thereof, of the children. Second, longer divorces allow for additional litigation and prolonged emotional strain. The third reason offered in support of the bill is the lack of any economic benefit by continuing with a two year separation period. For example, any alimony award will generally be reduced by the period of support received while the divorce was pending such that there is no benefit to a longer separation period.

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At this point, Pennsylvania has one of the longer waiting periods for divorce on the basis of separation. New York, Ohio, and Maryland require only one year of separation. New Jersey and Delaware only require six (6) months of separation. The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) has played a major rule in pushing for the passage of the bill. According to the PBA, there has actually been a decrease in divorce since many neighboring states have allowed divorce after only a minimum period of separation. Additionally, a shorter separation period will allow the parties to move on with their lives quicker with less emotional and financial strain as well as promote the best interests of minor children in decreasing the period of uncertainty.

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