Known as Act 102 of 2016, the law reduces the time a married couple must remain separated from two years to just one year. The law, which amends Title 23, was sponsored by Representative Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne).
According to Toohil, the goal of the law is to limit the emotional effect divorce has on children. Toohil said the following in a press release on Wednesday, October 5th, “Divorce is always difficult, especially for the children who may be involved… By reducing the waiting period to one year, the emotional trauma is far less for children whose family situation is being decided more quickly. In addition, the shorter waiting period allows the couple’s financial situation to be resolved more quickly and at less expense, so they can tend to their children’s well-being.”
The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) supports the law. PBA President Sara Austin issued the following statement about the law, “Divorce law should be a tool for the orderly and just dissolution of a marriage… The PBA Family Law Section worked closely with Representative Toohil to advance legislation that would mitigate the effects of stress on the parties involved and the children of the divorce, thereby allowing the family to begin the healing process sooner.”
After the one year waiting period is over, a couple may begin dividing their assets and seeing if a spouse is obligated to pay alimony. According to Toohil, states next to Pennsylvania have waiting periods of just 6 months to one year. Act 102 of 2016 will go into effect in 60 days.