The decision about getting a divorce can be draining – both emotionally and financially. Spouses are often overwhelmed with the amount of legal information, forms to file, and procedures to complete. Naturally, they want to find ways to make the divorce as simple and stress-free as possible. In this article, we will tell you about all the necessary steps to take to apply for divorce in Pennsylvania successfully.
Pennsylvania Divorce Facts
Divorce statistics show that just a few years ago, the divorce rate in Pennsylvania was 2.6 per 1,000 inhabitants, putting the state among the lowest in the country.
The state allows both fault-based and no-fault divorce. Fault-based divorce implies that one of the spouses is guilty of the marriage breakdown according to one of six valid grounds for divorce:
- Imprisonment due to a criminal conviction
- Cruel behavior
An uncontested divorce, also called no-fault, is much easier to obtain, which is why most people prefer to go with it. To file for this type of divorce, spouses should previously agree on issues such as child custody (if they have minor kids), property division, and spousal support. If spouses manage to reach an agreement, they can just fill out the required paperwork and submit it to the court to begin the divorce process.
How to Complete Divorce Online in Pennsylvania
Many couples get overwhelmed with the amount of legal information and the number of available divorce forms. Online divorce can be a perfect solution in this type of situation. Don’t be mistaken, though; it doesn’t mean that you will be able to complete divorce over the internet. Online or internet divorce implies that spouses can receive qualified help in selecting and filling out the proper divorce forms correctly. There are now various online divorce companies where couples can have their divorce papers prepared and, in some cases, filed with the court for an additional fee.
Web divorce has become very popular in the last couple of years. It is a convenient way to make at least one step of the divorce process easier for spouses. Here are some other benefits of online DIY divorce:
- Affordability of the service. For many families, divorce is a wrecking ball to their finances. Online divorce services give couples an inexpensive option for dealing with stressful paperwork when they cannot afford a lawyer.
- Speed of execution. Divorce is rarely a pleasant experience, so people want to get over it as quickly as possible. With online divorce, a petitioner will know for sure how quickly their divorce documents will be prepared. It usually takes 2 business days for the system to fill out all the data.
- Even the most experienced lawyers make mistakes sometimes. Online services don’t. You can be sure that the system will fill out the exact information you provide so the court will approve your documents on the first attempt.
- Court absence. Not everyone leaves their soon-to-be ex-spouse on good terms. By filling out the papers online, you will be able to avoid meeting your spouse and attending court proceedings. You just need to waive your right to appeal.
- Feeling of control. Divorce is a complicated and stressful process that can leave people with the feeling of powerlessness. By deciding to complete your divorce paperwork online, you will get a chance to be in full control of the process. You will know what information is used to fill out the forms, how long it will take, etc.
How to File Divorce Papers in Pennsylvania
After the spouses have determined the ground for divorce, agreed on all important matters such as alimony, and filled out the required paperwork, they should submit it to the court to get their dissolution of marriage. This can be done even without an attorney. To be able to file the documents, one of the spouses must have lived in Pennsylvania for at least 6 months. Also, the documents should be filed in the county where one of the spouses currently resides.
If both these requirements have been met, a petitioner can bring the documents to the county clerk. You won’t be able to send an application for divorce online, so be ready to visit the court clerk personally. It is important to call the clerk beforehand to ensure you have all the necessary papers and understand the filing fees. Also, don’t forget to make several copies of your documents. One should be filed with the court, one is kept for petitioner’s records, and the third goes to the respondent. After documents have been filed to the clerk, they will stamp them and assign your case with a number.
How to Serve Documents to the Spouse in Pennsylvania
According to law, the next step of the divorce process in the US is serving the other spouse with the documents. For those filing for divorce in Pennsylvania, there are a few ways to do this. If you’re on good terms with your ex, you can do it yourself. This is definitely the most affordable option.
Another option you have is hiring a professional process server. It will not increase the cost of divorce too much, but you will be charged a fee. The server will make several attempts before charging you again. You can also hire a local sheriff to serve the divorce documents on your behalf. However, this option is usually not that fast, and the sheriff will only make one attempt to serve the papers. Finally, you can send your documents via certified mail.
After the documents have been served, the petitioner must provide proof of service to the court. After a certain waiting period, the marriage will finally be dissolved.