Legislative Alert: Major change coming for the 2-year PA divorce waiting period?

Parties can seek a divorce as soon as 90 days after the service of the Complaint in Divorce, if they both agree to move forward.

But what happens if one party does not want to move forward with the divorce? Pennsylvania currently has a 2-year "waiting period" before a party can begin to force a divorce forward. Decades ago the waiting period was lowered from three years to two years. And for decades, members of the PA family law bar have sought to lower the waiting period to one year.

Experienced family law practitioners have recently begin to utilize a "Rueckert Motion" (first established in Allegheny County) to push a divorce through more quickly, but this only works in very specific circumstances. What about the rest of the time?

Family law practitioners see the damage to children and parties that can be caused by long-term litigation. The idea of the waiting period is to have a "cool down" period before a party can force a divorce. But what can waiting 24 months do that cannot also be done by waiting 12 months? And parties can move forward after 3 months, if they both agree.

So, a Pennsylvania Bar Association group called the 2:1 Task Force has been advocating to lower the waiting period to 1 year. The Task Force has researched the effects of a one-year waiting period in other states and has met with members of the House Judiciary Committee. The 2:1 Task Force also issued a position paper that was approved by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Board of Governors.

A bill to lower the waiting period was introduced in the previous legislative session. Now, public hearings are expected before the PA House Judiciary Committee in June 2015. The 2:1 Task Force, PA Bar Farly Law Section leaders, child psychologists, custody evaluators and divorced parties are all expected to testify. This blog will keep you apprised of any major developments in this process.