Your home is meant to be a safe haven, free from conflict and anxiety. However, when ongoing arguments lead to psychologically or physically hurtful battles, you certainly don’t feel that way. But you no longer need to be trapped in an abusive and harmful situation. All forms of domestic violence and emotional abuse are considered grounds for a divorce in Pennsylvania. And, in a break from previous tradition, a divorce can now be obtained much faster if you are caught up in an abusive marriage. To enable people experiencing domestic violence or emotional abuse to file for a divorce without lengthy delays, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 12 (HB12).
Previously, when filing a divorce complaint in Allegheny County, even in an abusive situation, both spouses were required to consent to the proceedings before they could move forward. If one spouse did not agree to the divorce, the legal procedure could drag on for a long time. In the meantime, an offending spouse who didn’t want to consent to the divorce might escalate the abuse and even threaten lives. Under the new law, however, the court will presume that consent to a divorce has already been given once someone has been convicted of a personal-injury crime against their spouse.
In many cases prior to the enactment of HB12, an abusive spouse was also able to delay divorce proceedings and prolong the marriage while the couple was ordered to undergo marriage counseling to attempt to resolve their differences. These orders could mandate up to three face-to-face counseling sessions, sometimes extending the divorce process for more than a year. Now, the court-ordered counseling process is eliminated if the victimized spouse objects to it. This means that the divorce can be finalized with a minimum waiting period of 90 days as opposed to the normal two-year standard for a no-fault divorce.
Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, P.C. can help when you find yourself in a dangerous domestic situation and need to get out as quickly as possible. Rather than going through the divorce procedure alone, call 412-471-0677 or contact us online to have an experienced attorney work through this with you.