February 2, 2013

Adultery, Ground for Fault based Divorce in Pennsylvania

Like all other US states, Pennsylvania admits of different grounds for Divorce, the No Fault Divorce and Fault based Divorce. Adultery is one of the grounds for Fault-based divorce.

How to prove Adultery

Adultery must be proven before the Court. However, there are certain qualifying acts that may prevent the case of adultery to prosper. It is good to seek the advice of a Divorce Lawyer, to know when Adultery may be use as a ground for divorce.

Ground: Fault based divorce

Fault based divorce include the following grounds:

• Abandonment of the conjugal home without reasonable cause for a period of one (1) year or more;

• If one spouse has committed adultery or “cheated” the other spouse;

• Extreme cruelty and act of violence which may be physical or mental cruelty. It also include all forms of domestic violence that endangers the life and health of the innocent spouse;

• An act of bigamy where one spouse enters a second marriage while the first marriage is subsisting;

• If one spouse is convicted for a crime and sentenced to jail for two or more years;

• When one spouse has acted in a way that living together has become impossible, unbearable and burdensome; and

• In case of insanity or serious mental disorder of one spouse resulting in his or her confinement to a mental institution for at least eighteen (18) months; or when there is no prospect of recovery; or the possibility of discharge within the period of 18 months after the complaint was filed.

Grounds: No-Fault divorce

The No Fault Divorce has two grounds. One, when divorce is agreed between spouses (mutual consent). Second, when it is based on “irretrievable breakdown” where the spouses have lived separately for a period of at least two years with no chance of reconciliation.

The fact of irretrievable breakdown is not denied by the other party in his Affidavit or determined by court after due hearing. I was proven that the parties have lived separately for a period of at least two (2) years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

There is no requirement for court appearance in a No-fault divorce while court proceeding requires court appearances and testimonies in Fault-based divorce.

Adultery: Ground for Fault-based divorce

Adultery is the act of having sexual intercourse with someone other than the husband or the wife. In most adultery cases, each act of adultery constitutes a separate offense. Each act must be alleged in the complaint. When adultery is proven, divorce proceeding can prosper.

Defenses in Adultery during divorce proceeding

Certain acts may constitute a defense in divorce actions. These acts would bar any divorce action against the guilty spouse. For instance, if the defendant can prove that the other spouse is guilty of the same act of adultery, or if the innocent spouse continues to live with the adulterous spouse, the act is considered condoned or “forgiven.”

Condonation is a defense which bars any divorce action to prosper in court or for claims of non-support.

Degree of proof required in Adultery

However, under Pennsylvania law, adultery must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. It must be proven that the adulterous spouse has the inclination to commit such uncalled marital misconduct with the opportunity to satisfy such inclination. It can be substantiated by circumstantial evidence or by corroborative evidences like the testimony of witnesses.

In same manner, the act of condonation does not necessarily bar the action for divorce in Pennsylvania. It is only a factor to be considered especially in alimony decision. Evidence of the act of adultery can have a significant impact on the nature, amount and duration and the manner of payment for spousal support.

If you want to know more about Adultery and the procedure and grounds in filing divorce charges, contact the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C.at (215) 942-2100. They have competent and reliable divorce lawyers who can help you with the process.