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Can I file for no fault or an unilateral divorce after being in prison for 15 years or forma pomper due to no income?

Philadelphia, PA |

I have been separated from my spouse for 30 years total, but she probably will contest it.

Attorney Answers 3


In Pennsylvania a "no fault" divorce may be established without the consent of both parties. The party who files a divorce under the "no fault" section of the Divorce Code, must allege that the marriage is "irretrievable broken." Irretrievable breakdown means that the parties are estranged due to marital difficulties with no prospect of reconciliation. In other words, the marriage is not working out, the parties are estranged, and it does not look like the parties will be able to work things out.

In addition, to irretrievable breakdown, the parties either must both consent to the divorce OR must have been seperated for a period of two years or more. Thus, if a husband and wife have been seperated for more than 2 years, it is not necessary that both spouses consent to the divorce.

A party who does not have enough money to pay the filing fees associated with a divorce may file in forma pauperis. Typically court houses have an in forma pauperis form, where the filing party lists his or her income information. If the court determines that the filing party has no income (or low income) the court may waive the filing fees.

It is important that you consult an attorney. A divorce may have significant effects/consequences on more than just your marital status. You need to know your rights and obligations throughout the process. I suggest you look for a pro bono attorney to assist you. Please note that what I've provided in this Answer is just the general explanation of the divorce law, and is not advice for your particular situation. An attorney cannot advise you as to what is or is not in your best interest, until after meeting with you and getting more information.

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Brooks Thomas Thompson

Brooks Thomas Thompson


*Typo: "irretrievably broken"


If you are imprisoned, you might very well qualify as in forma pauperis (i.e. little to no income) which would allow the Court to waive the filing fee. You can file a divorce complaint whenever you desire. Since you have been separated for a period greater than two years you need only allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken

Stew Crawford, Jr., Esq.

Crawford Law Firm
A Full Service Law Firm Serving Pennsylvania & New Jersey

Philadelphia Area Office
223 North Monroe Street
Media, Pennsylvania 19063


All information provided in this comment is intended for informational purposes only and does not, by itself, create an attorney client relationship. Without the benefit a personal consultation to exploe all of the facts of your legal problem, the information in this posting may be inaccurate and for that reason it should not be relied upon. If you wish to consult with an attorney, or have any questions concerning this comment, please feel free to contact our offices through any of the above contact sources.

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You should be able to file for a Master since you have been separated for more than two years. If you have no income, the court may waive the filing fees and/or administrative fees, but you would have to file a Petition. I would suggest that you contact the Legal Aid office in your county and the bar association to see if they can give you a referral.

My response is based solely on the limited information contained in the question. It is not meant to substitute your attorney's advice.

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