Pennsylvania woman cited for calling 911 to ask for divorce

A Pennsylvania woman received a citation for disorderly conduct recently after she reportedly called 911 to request a divorce.

According to a Fox News report, the woman called police around 1 a.m. on April 13, 2013. When officers arrived at her home in northwestern Pennsylvania, she told them she wanted a divorce and asked that her husband be removed from the home. Because no crime had occurred, however, police were unable to force the man to leave. Police explained to the woman that divorce cases must be handled in civil court, Fox News reported, and then cited her for disorderly conduct and misuse of the 911 system.

Filing for divorce in Pennsylvania

While few would go so far as to call the police, it is not uncommon for people to feel unsure how to proceed when they decide that they want a divorce. Divorce laws vary by state, so process of seeking divorce in Pennsylvania is different than it may be in other states. Under Pennsylvania law, there are three types of divorce: Mutual consent, un-consented and fault-based.

Mutual consent divorce

Mutual consent divorce is typically the most straightforward option in Pennsylvania, but it is only possible if both spouses agree to end the marriage.

After a couple files for mutual consent divorce in Pennsylvania, there will be a 90-day waiting period. Each spouse then files a sworn statement that the marriage is irretrievably broken and asks the court to grant a divorce.

One of the benefits of mutual consent divorce in Pennsylvania is that it often allows married couples to part ways relatively quickly and without lengthy court battles.

Un-consented divorce

When spouses in Pennsylvania disagree about whether to end a marriage, the divorce process can be more complicated and time-consuming. It is possible to obtain a divorce when only one spouse wishes to end the marriage, but both of the following conditions must be met:

  • The spouses have been living separate and apart for at least two years, and
  • The spouse requesting the divorce has proven that the marriage is irretrievably broken

In some cases, a Pennsylvania couple may be considered "living separate and apart" even if they continue to share a residence. This is more likely when the spouses have been leading separate lives and interacting with one another very little.

Fault-based divorce

In un-consented and mutual consent divorce, Pennsylvania law requires only that divorcing spouses demonstrate that a marriage is "irretrievably broken," which in everyday terms means simply that the relationship is not working out and cannot be saved. Fault-based divorce is different in that it requires the spouse seeking divorce to establish specific grounds for divorce by proving that the other spouse was at fault for the deterioration of the marriage.

In Pennsylvania, the grounds for fault-based divorce include:

  • Desertion for at least one year
  • Bigamy
  • Adultery
  • Imprisonment for at least two years
  • Indignities (ongoing behavior that makes the spouse's life unbearable)
  • Cruel treatment that endangers the spouse's life or health

Confinement in a mental institution can also be grounds for fault-based divorce in Pennsylvania if the confinement began at least 18 months before divorce proceedings were initiated and is expected to continue for another 18 months or more after divorce proceedings have begun.

Contact an attorney

When considering divorce, talking to an attorney is often the best way to start. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can help spouses understand their rights and options for ending a marriage and can help them pursue the course of action that will best meet their needs.