Pennsylvania is unusual among states in that it still has both no-fault and fault divorce options on the books. The many issues regarding divorce in PA are defined in Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23 Pa.C.S.A. Domestic Relations, Part IV.
A no-fault divorce means that neither party is asserting that the other party did something wrong. Instead, the assertion is that the marriage is simply irretrievably broken. In Pennsylvania, a no-fault divorce may be granted after a waiting period of 90 days provided both parties consent to the divorce at the conclusion of the waiting period. This waiting period is often referred to as a cooling-off period. It is utilized to give the parties an opportunity to reflect on the severity of the decision to get a divorce and/or seek marital counseling to see if the relationship can be saved. The 90-day waiting period begins to run from date of service of the Complaint in Divorce.
Under Section 3301(c) of the Divorce Code, one way to obtain a no-fault divorce is by mutual consent of the parties ninety (90) days after filing and service of the divorce complaint. This is often the quicker option for a no-fault divorce however it is contingent on both parties signing the consent. Case law provides that a party cannot be forced to consent. This is true even if the party previously entered an agreement indicating they would timely consent to the divorce. The court has stated "[a] person has an unqualified right to change his or her mind and refuse to consent to be divorced, at least, as here, where the consent, though signed, has not been delivered or filed." Berman v. Berman, 33 Pa. D. & C.3d 134 (1983). This position supports the Divorce Code policy of preservation of marriages wherever possible.
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.