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What if my spouse doesn’t want a divorce but I do?

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2023 | Divorce |

Like most married couples in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, you and your spouse have no doubt encountered challenges in your relationship. Whether you typically get along well but a cataclysmic event through you off course — such as an extramarital affair, or you have always bickered with one another since the day you were married, it’s not easy to stay in an unhappy marriage, which is why many people don’t. What happens, however, if you want to divorce but your spouse doesn’t? 

Every state, including Pennsylvania, has “rules of operation” that govern divorce. In certain circumstances, it’s possible to file a petition, even if your partner would rather keep your marriage intact. It’s important to seek clarification of state laws ahead of time to ensure that you are doing everything “by the book.”  

Pennsylvania recognizes “fault” and “no fault” divorce 

Some married couples agree that it would be better to move on in life without each other than to continue feeling miserable in their relationship. If both spouses agree that their marriage is beyond repair, they can simply file a petition to divorce and wait 90 days for the court’s approval. If your spouse doesn’t want to break up, the system works a bit differently. If you have evidence of fault against your spouse, you can file a petition based on fault.  

If you plan to divorce without your spouse’s signature in Pennsylvania, you must first live apart for one year. Even then, your spouse can contest your petition. If this happens, there will be a court hearing. If your spouse does not deny your separation for one year or your irretrievably broken relationship, the court can issue a final decree without a hearing.  

It is best to seek guidance and support before heading to court 

In an atypical situation, such as if you want to file for a divorce but your spouse refuses to consent, it is best to seek guidance from someone who is well-versed in Pennsylvania divorce laws. Otherwise, you risk causing delays or impeding your own ability to obtain a divorce if you do not file your petition in adherence with state laws that govern cases where one spouse wants to dissolve a marriage but the other doesn’t.  

Bear in mind, also, that if you and your spouse have children together, you must resolve all issues that are relevant to child custody, which might be challenging if your spouse is opposed to the divorce. Support is available to parents who find themselves in such difficult circumstances.