Filing for Divorce in Pennsylvania (PA) | 7 Steps
What is the easiest way to divorce in PA?
Filing for divorce in Pennsylvania is not the quickest but wherein rather straightforward process. The trends of the past decades are that almost all the separations in Pennsylvania are no-fault ones. No-fault divorce in Pennsylvania means that neither spouse holds the other responsible for a breakup.
Although this approach still cannot guarantee a peaceful and simple divorce, the chances for uncontested divorce yet are much higher than in case of a fault-based dissolution. At least, as the statistics reveal, uncontested divorces rates in Pennsylvania increases continuously from the ’00s as well.
What is the reason? No-fault and uncontested types of divorce allow easing the procedure as possible free movie download .
“No-fault” divorce refers to the official grounds for divorce you have to point out in your divorce petition. Actually, Pennsylvania law recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds, meaning that the filing spouse may either point out the partner’s misconduct or not. All the fault grounds for divorce (like adultery, domestic violence, abusive conduct, etc.) must be proved by the before the court, what explains the complexity, higher costs, stress, and, therefore, low popularity of a fault-based divorce.
Filing for no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania, there is no need to prove anything so, such divorce may be uncontested at the same time.
An uncontested divorce refers to the level of agreement between the parties concerning the previously chosen grounds. Fault divorce can be uncontested as well, but it is more common for no-fault divorces to be uncontested. Mutual intention to get divorced and no claims to each other usually make it easier for the couple to reach an agreement on the divorce terms out of court.
Namely the combination of these approaches – no-fault ground and uncontested proceeding – allows getting a divorce easily. You can even file for divorce in Pennsylvania without a lawyer and save a lot of money if you are ready to negotiate with your spouse.
Key tips of filing for a divorce in Pennsylvania
If you are ready to arrange an affordable calm divorce process and keep the mess to a minimum, here are some requirements and essential things to consider when filing for divorce in Pennsylvania.
Meet the residency requirements
To be eligible to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, the couple must meet the following requirements established by the state law: one of the spouses is required to be a «bona fide resident» in Pennsylvania for six months or more before filing.
Determine the date of separation
Speaking of no-fault grounds for divorce, in Pennsylvania, it is “Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage.” This no-fault ground assumes several requirements, and one of them is to determine the actual separation date.
So, first things first. According to the Pennsylvania Statutes, the court can grant a divorce due to the Irretrievable Breakdown if the divorce petition outlines this ground and the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year. The state of Pennsylvania, however, does not recognize legal separation, so separation date before a divorce is kind of tricky and individual thing, which is different for every couple and depends on their circumstances.
Often, it is the date when either spouse moved out of the house, but that’s not that simple. If the spouses live separately but still have sexual relations, or, for instance, continue going out together (for dinner or smth like that) with friends and do not stop “acting” like a married couple, the court may not see this as a real separation. And vice versa. The spouses may live under the same roof due to some valid reasons, but not have sexual intercourse as well as not to communicate a lot, so they can be considered as a separated couple.
So, if you want to get divorced as soon as possible it is essential to start living “separate and apart” immediately. The final countdown to your divorce cannot begin until the year of separation starts.
And also, the separation date matters so much since it is the date when the assets and debts acquired by the spouses are no longer considered as marital and are not subject to division under the equitable distribution rules.
Make a Settlement agreement
You can use the time of the one-year waiting period to work on your marital agreement. An uncontested divorce and even so-called DIY divorce without an attorney is recognized in Pennsylvania for all couples, no matter whether they have kids or significant assets to divide, but you should be well-prepared. If you do not rush, you can make a mutually beneficial agreement out of court and take into account all the important terms and details. As for divorce without a lawyer, the primary condition is the spouses’ ability to negotiate effectively, to listen to each other and compromise. You can make everything on your own or to resort the divorce mediation, to settle the most disputed issues like parenting rights, visitation, alimony, property and debts division, and so on.
File a Divorce Petition
You should gather the needed divorce forms, fill them out and file with the proper court at the county of residence.
You can obtain the required forms and papers either in the clerk’s office or online in Pennsylvania. Special online divorce companies offer to select and complete all the divorce paperwork for you for a reasonable cost. This option is very convenient if you need a lot of forms for your particular case, but lack time and will to sort them out.
Anyway, the primary form is Divorce Petition, or as it is called in Pennsylvania, Complaint (Notice to Defend, Complaint and Verification form).
Notice to Defend contains basic data concerning a case (whatever, divorce or any other), and the Complaint is a request to get a divorce.
Serve your spouse with the forms
After filing for divorce in Pennsylvania, the Plaintiff (the spouse who files the Complaint) must necessarily provide the copies of the divorce papers to the other spouse. There are four allowed ways of how to do this. You may request a service by sheriff while filing the Complaint on the court. Also, you can hire a private process service or ask any of your friends and relatives older than 18 and not involved in the case to deliver the documents. Anyway, the serving process must be done face-to-face.
If your partner lives far from you, serving process via certified mail is also appropriate, but the postman must hand-deliver the envelope to your spouse and get their signature on the receipt.
As a result, both parties are required to complete an Affidavit form, to show they are agreed on all divorce issues Pname Com Facebook Orca.
Wait till the “cooling-off” period passes
Some couples decide on divorce in a rage stroke but days later change their minds. Some states have adopted so-called “cooling-off” period to prevent such cases. This period means the certain time during which the divorce cannot be granted even if all the forms are completed.
This type of waiting period allows stopping the divorce proceeding before the court enters the decree. For those couples who have clear intent to get a divorce, this situation requires just patience since waiting can be annoying.
In Pennsylvania, the cooling-off period is 90 days.
You can use this time to work on an agreement or attend mediation sessions, to visit parenting classes or psychologist before the final court hearing can be scheduled.
Attend the final hearing
The final hearing in an uncontested divorce is typically brief and non-stressful.
The judge needs to consider whether your settlement agreement is fair and appropriate under the Pennsylvania family law. If your case is all right, you can obtain the Divorce Decree in the shortest terms (but, sure, after the waiting period will pass). You will be notified about the exact date of the final hearing. When the judge signs the Divorce Decree is officially finalized, and the former spouses can get the copies of the document.