Until recently if one party to a marriage would not consent to a divorce in Pennsylvania there was a mandatory two year waiting period before the moving party could proceed with a divorce. On October 4, 2016, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 380, which reduces the waiting period from two years to one. The new law goes into effect this December 2016.
This law is a major victory for parents and children in Pennsylvania. Divorce, as we have written here previously, is one of the most stressful times in the life of a family. It can be a time of uncertainty, anxiety, anger, fear and depression. Children may be confused and scared. A prolonged waiting period between unhappy parents can have serious detrimental effects upon spouses and the children who may bear witness to fighting and experience instability.
The original legislative intent behind a waiting period was for family reunification. Our lawmakers felt that a longer waiting period would encourage reconciliation. They respected keeping families together, and did not want to be quick to endorse family break up. In reality, their intention was not realized.
By the time one party makes the heart wrenching decision to consult an attorney and proceed with a divorce filing, the likelihood of a family reunification is almost nil. Continue reading