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Getting divorced when one spouse is in prison

Getting divorced when one spouse is in prison

When a couple cannot live together, marriage is much more difficult, and if this is because one spouse is in a Pennsylvania prison, divorce may feel more complicated. Getting a divorce with one spouse in prison depends on many factors, including which spouse is initiating the divorce.

As FindLaw explains, if the spouse who wants to divorce is not imprisoned, he or she is able to use the imprisonment itself as grounds for divorce in some states. While this is not the case in all states, New York, for example, allows imprisonment to be the grounds of divorce for five years after a spouse is released from prison, so long as they were in lockup for at least three years. Of course, there are other possible grounds for divorce to use when the state does not specify imprisonment, and if the spouse in prison does not contest the divorce, divorce papers can be served behind bars or at a court appearance. When an imprisoned spouse is not willing to divorce, a lawyer can help provide counsel on the best steps to take.

If the spouse initiating divorce is in prison, he or she may have trouble getting it finalized. As The Atlantic reports, inmates often do not have the funds to pay a lawyer, and thus are often unable to have a divorce go through while they are in prison. Many courts require an in-person appearance at the clerk for a court date to even be set, so while papers can be served from a prison cell, a date will never be set with the court, and thus no transportation is arranged for the inmate to go to court.

For more information, contact Louis Wm. Martini, attorney at law.

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