"Irretrievable breakdown" is defined as estrangement due to marital difficulties with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

A court may grant a divorce on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, where an affidavit has been filed alleging that the parties have lived separate and apart for an express period. If the court determines that there is a reasonable prospect of reconciliation, then the court will require counseling. If the parties have not reconciled at the expiration of the time period and one party states, under oath, that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will grant the divorce. Otherwise, the court will deny the divorce.

Mutual Consent- No Fault

Under provisions of the Pennsylvania divorce code, two parties may request the entry of a divorce decree after a waiting period of at least ninety (90) days by mutual consent. The shortest period of time that the parties must wait, where they have not lived separate and apart for a period of two or more years, is ninety (90) days. The complaint in this instance would be filed by one of the parties and allege that the marriage is "irretrievably broken."

Should both parties consent to the entry of a divorce after the expiration of the waiting period, the divorce will be granted by the court.

At Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC, we provide compassionate service to our clients who are experiencing a divorce. We realize that choices are not easily made during a time of separation from a spouse. Please contact our firm when experience and compassionate service matters.

Comment: The divorce laws of the commonwealth were instituted to deal effectively with the realities of matrimonial experience and to encourage and effect reconciliation and settlement of differences between spouses. The courts in Pennsylvania, in construing the provisions of the divorce law, must consider these objectives. Each marriage relationship is unique; therefore, the court must look at the facts of each individual case to determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Because each marriage relationship is based upon different facts and circumstances, there is no checklist that can be followed to show that a marriage is irretrievably broken.

Counseling Requirement- A Maximum Of Three Sessions

The court must order counseling of the parties, upon the request of a party, whenever the alleged ground for a divorce is:

  • Indignities
  • Mutual consent
  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage

Additionally, in the case of an alleged irretrievable breakdown, the court may require counseling where the parties have at least one child of an express age or younger. The purpose of the counseling requirement is to provide additional time and counseling where the possibility of reconciliation exists. It is not intended to compel a court to engage in futile and useless exercises, nor is it intended to provide a spouse with the means to delay the entry of a decree in divorce for no good reason. The Divorce Code provides for a maximum of three (3) counseling sessions within 90 days following the commencement of the action.

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Contact the law firm of Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC if you have questions regarding the initiation or response to a complaint. Call 717-827-4074.

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