On September 27, 2016, the House and Senate finally signed off on House Bill 380 which reduces the separation requirement for divorce in Pennsylvania from two years to one year. This version of the bill had been in the works for nearly two years with its initial introduction to the House occurring in early 2015. The House passed the bill by November 2015. The Senate finally passed the bill on September 26, 2016 after having received it for consideration last November. The bill is presently waiting for signature by Governor Tom Wolf. Once signed, the new law be effective in 60 days. Some parties contemplating divorce may want to consider waiting until the new law is effective prior to filing for divorce to be able to finalize their divorces quicker in the absence of mutual consent.
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Pennsylvania will join neighboring jurisdictions who already have shorter waiting periods for divorce. 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) played a significant role 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.