Divorce is a difficult process, but it doesn't have to be complicated. In Pennsylvania, it's possible to complete a divorce without hiring a family law attorney. This can be a great way to save on legal fees, but it's important to understand the process and the potential risks involved. The simplest procedure is an uncontested divorce, in which you and your spouse come to an agreement on all issues.
You begin the process by filing a Demand for Divorce, along with several supporting documents. This includes a marital settlement agreement that outlines the division of assets and any arrangements regarding children. These documents are filed with the court and copies are provided to your spouse. You'll then attend a court hearing, where the judge will make sure all your documents are in order and enter your Divorce Decree.
In Pennsylvania, you can file for a no-fault or fault-based divorce. No-fault divorces are based on the idea that the marriage is irretrievably broken down and both parties agree to the divorce. Fault-based divorces require one of the spouses to prove one of the grounds for divorce, such as adultery or extreme cruelty. When you are able to find enough common ground and trust with your spouse during a divorce, you can save a lot of time, money and anxiety.
To do this, you should have one or more conversations with your spouse so that there are no surprises along the way. An uncontested divorce involves a certain degree of trust, and the best way to build trust is to keep the lines of communication open. You must officially notify your spouse of your intention to divorce by providing court documentation within 30 days of filing. If the other party does not live in Pennsylvania, this time requirement is extended to 90 days.
This gives them the right to challenge parts of the divorce claim if they disagree with what is being said. When that happens, divorce is no longer indisputable and all the accrued benefits of going a simpler path will disappear. Each party may also choose to sign a Notice of Intent or Waiver of Notice. If both parties sign and file a Waiver of Notice, either party can immediately file a Praecipe to Transmit Excord and have the file go to a judge. Depending on court backlogs, it could take four or five months before the courts pass a final judgment.
When both parties consent to divorce in Pennsylvania, the court will review the documentation to ensure that the agreement is fair, but there will be no formal hearing. Many people choose to divorce without the services of an attorney, especially in uncontested divorces where reaching a compromise eliminates the need for an attorney to advocate for one party's position. As long as you meet Pennsylvania's six-month residency requirement, it doesn't matter where you got married. To get a divorce in Pennsylvania, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months immediately before filing divorce papers. The three categories of divorce in Pennsylvania are divorce by mutual consent, without consent, and fault. When representing yourself in the divorce, you will also need to include the self-represented party's appearance registration form, which informs the court that you do not have an attorney to represent you in the divorce. By filing a no-fault, undisputed divorce with an agreement that an attorney has reviewed, you can get a quick divorce. A person seeking alimony must file for alimony as part of a divorce lawsuit before the court finally grants a divorce.
To keep things simple, you can instead file for divorce online.