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To Death Do Us Part? What Happens When One Spouse Dies During Divorce
To Death Do Us Part? What Happens When One Spouse Dies During Divorce

In Pennsylvania, divorces can take an agonizingly long time to complete. Even an amicable divorce must wait 90 days before it can be finalized with a Decree. Contested divorces can take 2 or more years to complete. You may have cringed as you listened to your coworker lament their lingering divorce proceedings as the spouses continue to argue over kitchen utensils.

Because divorce proceedings can be so lengthy, one spouse may pass away during the process. What happens, then? Does the surviving spouse get all of those things the late spouse was trying to keep from him or her? Under Pennsylvania law, the answers to these questions depend of whether “grounds for divorce” were established prior to the spouse’s death.

If the divorce was uncontested (consented to by both spouses), grounds are automatically established. On the other hand, if the court has found that the spouses were separated for a period of two years, the court may find that grounds were established. If it is a fault divorce, grounds (fault) must have been proven prior to death.

If grounds for divorce were not proven or determined by the court prior to death, then the division of assets will be handled as a probate matter as though the spouses were married at the time of death.  

If you are considering filing for divorce or if you are currently in divorce proceedings, consider hiring a professional divorce attorney to fight for you. Call us today at 814-274-8612. Additionally, if you are concerned about what might happen to your property after death, having a Will drawn up can provide you the peace of mind you are looking for. At Ross & Ross, we handle family law, estate planning, and more. We can help you.

***Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.  No lawyer-client relationship exists until one of our attorneys meets with you and agrees to accept you as a client.

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