If you have been planning to file for divorce only to find your spouse sentenced to prison for a crime, you might wonder if their incarceration will prevent your divorce. Even if you have not filed yet, you should know that you still have the right to a divorce if your spouse is in prison.
The grounds for your divorce will vary depending on their sentence.
How long is the prison sentence?
The first thing to consider is the actual term of your spouse’s sentence. If the term of the sentence is at least two years, you can file for divorce on those grounds alone. Pennsylvania law permits a spouse to file for divorce from anyone sentenced to at least 24 months after conviction of a crime.
Can you get a copy of the sentencing record?
If you use your spouse’s incarceration as grounds for the divorce, you need to supply a copy of the sentencing information with your divorce petition.
Do you need other grounds?
If your spouse received a sentence of fewer than two years, you will need other grounds to file. You can file your divorce using any of the same grounds you would if your spouse were not incarcerated. Irreconcilable differences, adultery and abuse are just a few of the reasons permitted in Pennsylvania.
An incarcerated spouse does not prevent your divorce from proceeding. You should know that your spouse can contest the divorce from prison as well. Be prepared for the process because litigation may be necessary.