2021 Pennsylvania Consolidated & Unconsolidated Statutes
Title 23 - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
Chapter 33 - Dissolution of Marital Status
Section 3323 - Decree of court

Universal Citation: 23 PA Cons Stat § 3323 (2021)
§ 3323. Decree of court.

(a) General rule.--In all matrimonial causes, the court may either dismiss the complaint or enter a decree of divorce or annulment of the marriage.

(b) Contents of decree.--A decree granting a divorce or an annulment shall include, after a full hearing, where these matters are raised in any pleadings, an order determining and disposing of existing property rights and interests between the parties, custody, partial custody and visitation rights, child support, alimony, reasonable attorney fees, costs and expenses and any other related matters, including the enforcement of agreements voluntarily entered into between the parties. In the enforcement of the rights of any party to any of these matters, the court shall have all necessary powers, including, but not limited to, the power of contempt and the power to attach wages.

(c) Bifurcation.--(Deleted by amendment).

(c.1) Bifurcation.--With the consent of both parties, the court may enter a decree of divorce or annulment prior to the final determination and disposition of the matters provided for in subsection (b) if the court determines that doing so provides sufficient economic protections for any minor children of the marriage. In the absence of the consent of both parties, the court may enter a decree of divorce or annulment prior to the final determination and disposition of the matters provided for in subsection (b) if:

(1) grounds have been established as provided in subsection (g); and

(2) the moving party has demonstrated that:

(i) compelling circumstances exist for the entry of the decree of divorce or annulment; and

(ii) sufficient economic protections have been provided for the other party and any minor children of the marriage during the pendency of the disposition of the matters provided for in subsection (b).

(d) Substitution for deceased party.--If one of the parties dies after the decree of divorce has been entered, but prior to the final determination in such proceeding of the property rights and interests of the parties under this part, the personal representative of the deceased party shall be substituted as a party as provided by law and the action shall proceed.

(d.1) Death of a party.--In the event one party dies during the course of divorce proceedings, no decree of divorce has been entered and grounds have been established as provided in subsection (g), the parties' economic rights and obligations arising under the marriage shall be determined under this part rather than under 20 Pa.C.S. (relating to decedents, estates and fiduciaries).

(e) Costs.--The court may award costs to the party in whose favor the order or decree shall be entered or may order that each party shall pay their own costs or may order that costs be divided equitably as it shall appear just and reasonable.

(f) Equity power and jurisdiction of the court.--In all matrimonial causes, the court shall have full equity power and jurisdiction and may issue injunctions or other orders which are necessary to protect the interests of the parties or to effectuate the purposes of this part and may grant such other relief or remedy as equity and justice require against either party or against any third person over whom the court has jurisdiction and who is involved in or concerned with the disposition of the cause.

(g) Grounds established.--For purposes of subsections (c.1) and (d.1), grounds are established as follows:

(1) In the case of an action for divorce under section 3301(a) or (b) (relating to grounds for divorce), the court adopts a report of the master or makes its own findings that grounds for divorce exist.

(2) In the case of an action for divorce under section 3301(c), both parties have filed affidavits of consent or, if the presumption in section 3301(c)(2) is established, one party has filed an affidavit of consent.

(3) In the case of an action for divorce under section 3301(d), an affidavit has been filed and no counter-affidavit has been filed or, if a counter-affidavit has been filed denying the affidavit's averments, the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the parties have lived separate and apart for at least one year at the time of the filing of the affidavit.

(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days; Apr. 21, 2016, P.L.166, No.24, eff. 60 days; Oct. 4, 2016, P.L.865, No.102, eff. 60 days)

2016 Amendments. Act 24 amended subsec. (g)(2) and Act 102 amended subsecs. (c.1) and (g)(3). Section 2 of Act 102 provided that the amendment of subsec. (g)(3) shall apply to periods of living separate and apart that commence after the effective date of section 2.

2004 Amendment. Act 175 added subsecs. (c.1), (d.1) and (g) and deleted subsec. (c). See section 5(3), (4) and (5) of Act 175 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability.

Cross References. Section 3323 is referred to in sections 2106, 2203, 2507, 6111.1, 6111.2 of Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries).

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