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Divorce in Pennsylvania

Deciding to get a divorce is not easy for many people. It takes considerable thought and deliberation, and is often stressful. But when you have made the decision, usually you want to find the fastest, least expensive and most trouble-free way to start the divorce process. Fortunately, Pennsylvania makes getting a divorce straightforward. As long as you and your spouse are in agreement about the need for divorce, how you will divide your property and how your children will be cared for (if you have children), you can pursue an uncontested divorce. In this case, you may even qualify to complete your divorce without a lawyer. You simply need to fill out the appropriate Pennsylvania divorce papers and submit them to your county clerk.

If you are in a situation where you and your spouse are not in agreement on any of these issues, you may have a more complicated divorce ahead of you. The court needs to know how you will both deal with these issues – and that you will do so fairly – before it can end the marriage. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on your own, the court will be forced to do it for you. One of the least expensive ways to resolve differences like these is through mediation however, if mediation is not successful, you’re likely best off hiring a divorce attorney.

We gathered the following information to help you better understand how divorce works in Pennsylvania, and what your options are to move forward with your own divorce.

Pennsylvania Divorce Facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in Pennsylvania was 2.8 for every 1,000 residents in 2011. Pennsylvania's divorce rate is low compared to the majority of states in the U.S.

Pennsylvania accepts both fault-based and no-fault divorce. If you choose a fault-based divorce, you will need to prove that your spouse gave your grounds for divorce, such as adultery or cruelty. With a no-fault divorce, you do not need to place the blame for divorce on anyone. You can just state that there are irreconcilable differences and that the marriage is no longer working. Many people choose no-fault because it is faster, easier and cheaper than pursuing a fault-based divorce. Pennsylvania does not factor fault into property division, although it may consider fault when deciding on spousal support.

Pennsylvania Divorce Papers and Forms

The divorce papers you complete and submit will depend on your specific circumstances, so it is important to understand Pennsylvania’s requirements. The Pennsylvania Courts website has a section dedicated to Divorce Proceedings, where you can read about the state's divorce process and the various categories and options for divorce, as well as information on representing yourself in the courts. It is a good idea to spend some time reviewing this information, because it may prove useful as you pursue your divorce.

On the site you will see an option for “No fault and mutual consent 3301(c)” and “No fault and two year separation 3301(d). If you and your spouse agree on the divorce, you fall under the mutual consent category. This is the quickest way to get divorced, and can happen in as little as 90 days after filing. The two year separation is required if you file alone, which means you must have been separated from your spouse for two years before the divorce will be granted.

If you find the various divorce forms slightly confusing, you are not alone. To get help with the processs, many people use CompleteCase.com to prepare their Pennsylvania divorce papers online.  At CompleteCase.com you’ll know you are filling out the required divorce forms and that the forms are filled out correctly.  With this kind of assistance, you can avoid possible delays or unnecessary costs brought on by incorrect, missing or incomplete documents.

How to File Divorce Papers in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania requires that you or your spouse have lived in the state for at least six months before you can file for divorce. Additionally, you will need to file for the divorce in the county where your spouse currently lives. There are some exceptions to this if your spouse has moved from the county where you lived while you were married. If you still live in the county you were married, you can file in your county. You can also file in your county with the agreement of your spouse. If neither you or your spouse live where you were living while married, then you can file in either your county or your spouse's county.

When you have completed your online divorce papers you can print them out and file them with the appropriate county clerk. Make several copies of the documents so you have copies for your records and to serve to your spouse. You can call the county clerk ahead of time to verify that you are bringing all the necessary documents, and that you have the correct amount for the state filing fee in a payment form that the court will accept.

How to Serve Divorce Papers in Pennsylvania

The final step in the filing process is to serve copies of the divorce papers to your spouse. You have several options to serve the papers, certified mail, a professional process server, a sheriff's deputy or a person over 18 years old that is not related to you. After the papers are served, you need to submit proof of service to the court that verifies the divorce papers were served and that the method followed court rules.

Do you qualify for an online divorce?

Do you know the location of your spouse?
Is your spouse in agreement regarding this divorce and willing to sign the divorce papers with you?
Do you and your spouse have any children under the age of 18 from this marriage?