New Pennsylvania Bill Makes Spousal Abuse Victims’ Divorce Process Easier

Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP

Recently, Governor Wolf signed a bill into law giving spousal abuse victims in Pennsylvania additional rights when pursuing a divorce. This law will become effective in the middle of June 2016. It has been said that, “this legislation will make the lives of abused spouses across the commonwealth safer.”

Currently, without the consent of both parties, it has taken up to two years until a court would allow the case to proceed. In addition, the couple has had to attend at least three court-mandated counseling sessions. The new legislation allows spousal abuse victims to file for divorce and the law presumes that the other party has consented if he or she has been convicted of committing a personal injury crime against the filing spouse. In addition, victims can object to court-mandated divorce counseling if they have a protection-from-abuse order or were the victim of a personal injury crime for which the spouse has been convicted or entered into accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD).

This bill was amended to better empower victims of domestic violence and prevent victims from being forced into staying in an abusive marriage.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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