Separation is one of the no-fault grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania. A no-fault divorce simply means there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Grounds for a divorce can be established if a one year separation period is established. One party would need to file an affidavit of separation setting forth the separation date. This affidavit is to be served on the other party along with a counter-affidavit. If no objection is made by the other party the date of separation as stated in the initial affidavit is accepted.
Separation does not mean the parties have to actually live separately from another. Many parties still reside in the same home but are considered to be “separate” based on the definition provided by the Divorce Code. Section 3103 of the Divorce Code defines “Separate and apart” as follows: Cessation of cohabitation, whether living in the same residence or not. In the event a complaint in divorce is filed and served, it shall be presumed that the parties commenced to live separate and apart not later than the date that the complaint was served.” Accordingly, the date the divorce complaint is filed will be accepted as the latest date of separation regardless of whether the parties continue to live together or not. However, the date of separation can be an even earlier date such as the date one party moves out of the marital home. Alternatively, even if the parties continue to reside together, a date of separation can be established when one party makes it clear to the other party that the marriage is over by stating so clearly or preferably putting it in writing. Be sure that the other party is keenly aware of your intended separation, especially if you will continue to reside together and/or hold off on filing for divorce.