Pa. House introduces bill to ease divorce process

The Pennsylvania State Capitol is shown in Harrisburg, Pa., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2024, ahead of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget address for fiscal year 2024-25. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has introduced a bill that would make the divorce process easier.

The bill, HB 2303, introduced by Rep. Kristine Howard (D-Chester County), called Pennsylvania’s current divorce law “a disgrace.” Currently, the law makes it “substantially” more difficult to end a marriage than any other contract and exponentially more difficult than creating the contract in the first place, Howard wrote in the proposed bill.

To initiate a divorce in Pennsylvania, one or both spouses must have lived in the Commonwealth for at least the past six months. The person seeking divorce files a complaint to tell the court why she should divorce her spouse. A divorce is not final until a decision is made and the court issues a ruling.

If one of the spouses does not want to divorce, it is called divorce “without consent.” These rates may still be granted if the couple has been living apart for at least a year and the marriage is proven to be irretrievably broken.

In “fault” cases, if the spouse seeking a divorce does not want to wait a year, he or she can still get a divorce but must prove that the other spouse is at fault. The spouse filing for divorce must also prove that he did nothing wrong to his spouse. If both spouses are at fault, the court may refuse to grant a divorce.

Additionally, the spouse can also prevent the divorce from being granted by proving that the parties have not lived apart for at least one year or that the marriage is not irretrievably broken.

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Howard’s bill would provide more grounds for divorce, repeal provisions related to counseling, provide more grounds for annulment of voidable marriages, repeal provisions related to defenses, repeal provisions related to jury trials, and provide a general order for divorce proceedings.

“The state should not force anyone to remain in a failed or abusive marriage,” Howard wrote in the bill.

The bill was presented on May 20.