Divorce is not something anybody wants, but it happens all the same. When you have difficulties in your marriage and personal life, adding legal matters to the equation is never something anyone likes to consider. However, if it gets to the point of no return, filing for divorce becomes a real option.
With divorce comes a roller coaster of emotions, lawyers, forms, and everything in-between. If you have to go through all these to reclaim your life and peace of mind, you can rest assured that you can find professionals to help you through the process. Many divorce companies like Pennsylvania Online Divorce offer services that make the process easier. If you are a Pennsylvania resident and plan to file for a divorce, this article will provide you with a step-by-step process for getting a divorce.
How to File a Divorce in Pennsylvania
Divorce in Pennsylvania takes six steps. Though the state of Pennsylvania does not offer a summary or simplified divorce, you can apply for a no-fault, uncontested divorce within the state as a simplified and more affordable option. Before we get into issues such as alimony and property division, here are the steps required to apply for a divorce in Pennsylvania.
Step #1: Fulfill the Residency Prerequisites
To apply for a divorce in the state, one of the spouses must have lived in Pennsylvania for a minimum of six months before filing for divorce. The petitioner can file for the divorce in the county where either of the parties lives. Both parties can also agree on the specific county where the divorce should be filed.
Step #2: Decide on the Type of Divorce to File
Pennsylvania has two types of divorce – fault and no-fault. Let’s look at each of these types of divorce in detail.
A fault-based divorce means there are grounds for divorce. It may involve things like endangerment, adultery, indignities, or imprisonment for at least 2 years. This type of divorce implies that one of the spouses is responsible for the dissolution of the marriage. All of these grounds require the petitioner to prove the other spouse’s fault in court.
This type of divorce is also referred to as a contested divorce and can take a long time to resolve. Beyond the dispute over the cause of divorce, the spouses may also have other unresolved issues, such as how to divide property and debts, how to share child custody and support, and whether alimony will be paid.
This is a more expensive method because of the additional court costs and increased legal fees. A contested divorce can take up to several months to several years to finalize after it has been filed.
An uncontested divorce is of two types. There is mutual consent where both parties agree to end the marriage based on the ground that their marriage is irretrievably broken with no one taking the blame. This divorce can only be finalized after 90 days after the divorce papers and documents are filed.
Within this period, it is recommended that both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce process, including property division, child custody, spousal support, and others. Two-year legal separation is the second type of no-fault divorce. This type comes into effect when one spouse does not agree to the divorce. In this case, only one spouse is required to consent to the legal separation. During the two years, both spouses live separately but are still legally married. However, after the two years, the divorce process will be revisited and made final if both parties still want to go ahead with it.
When both parties agree on all aspects of their marriage dissolution, they can proceed with an uncontested divorce. The parties should put their settlement agreement in writing, and after the 90 day waiting period, it will be reviewed by the judge. If everything looks fair and legal, the divorce decree will be signed.
There are several options to proceed with an uncontested divorce while keeping the cost of divorce down. The couple will have the option to handle the entire divorce on their own without assistance (a DIY divorce), or they could use the services of an online divorce company to handle the divorce document preparation as a much cheaper option than hiring an attorney.
Step #3: File to Begin the Divorce Process
The next step is to file the Divorce Complaint with the court. A divorce Complaint is a legal document that states the commencement of the proceeding for a divorce. There are six forms required to be filled and submitted for this step in Pennsylvania. These include a Notice to Defend form, Counseling Notice form, Complaint in Divorce form, Verification Form, Family Court Cover Sheet, and a copy of your Marriage Certificate.
These forms may be a bit complex, which means you may require the service of a professional. To make it more affordable, you can consider divorce over the internet. You will find a reputable website that will help you through the process without an attorney.
Step #4: Serve your Spouse the Divorce Papers
After you have filed the Divorce Complaint, the next step is to serve your spouse the divorce paperwork. The forms to be served will include a copy of the Complaint and the Form of Acceptance, which indicates that the respondent has seen the divorce documents and acknowledges that they have been served.
Step #5: The Respondent Respond to the Complaint
When the defendant gets the complaint and summons from the respondent, they have to complete an Affidavit of Service. This will recognize the recipient, address, time, and the means of service delivery. It also covers the response to the complaint that has been served.
Step #6: Divorce Finalization
There is a waiting period of 90 days after the documents have been filed. After this period, the respondent can go-ahead to file the final forms.
After the 90 days have passed, both spouses must sign and file the Affidavit of Consent and a Waiver of Notice. After that, the divorce can be concluded by either party filing with the court a Final Praecipe to Transmit Record and request for the Final Decree of Divorce. The documents will be reviewed and signed by a judge, officially pronouncing your divorce as final and irrevocable.
You are divorced officially. After this, you have nothing in common with your spouse except child custody, spousal support, and other terms of the divorce agreement that you may have.
The Cost of Divorce in Pennsylvania
The cost of the divorce process varies from one county to the other. For the filing fees, you may spend anywhere between $300 to $450, depending on the county and whether a child is involved.
Other factors are also responsible for the overall cost of divorce, mainly the services you require, especially if it is a contested divorce, and what divorce papers you need. For an uncontested divorce, you can expect to spend between $500 and $3,000 depending on if you use an attorney, an online divorce service, or do it all yourself. A contested divorce runs an average of $15,000 but can be much higher. The lawyers for both parties and the complexity of the divorce case can significantly drive up the cost.
How easy is it to get Divorced Online in Pennsylvania?
Many states in the USA allow couples to make an application for divorce online, and Pennsylvania is one of them. However, there are basic prerequisites that must be met before you can file for a divorce online. Therefore, you should check the court website to know if you meet the specific requirements. If you are considering internet divorce, you should ensure you use a reputable platform with seasoned professionals to handle your documentation.
An uncontested divorce can be inexpensive if you choose to complete a divorce online. Apart from being affordable, it is also less stressful. You will have professionals that will help you put your documents together and take care of most of the paperwork.
How long does Pennsylvania Divorce take?
From the time you file for a divorce until the process is finalized, it can take 3 or 4 months for uncontested no-fault cases up to well over a year for contested cases. The time range is mostly determined by whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce. The waiting period for the divorce should also be considered when calculating the timeframe for the divorce. Pennsylvania has a waiting period of 90 days, irrespective of whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce.
Without a doubt, divorce is not an easy process. It takes a lot of patience and understanding. Your emotions will be affected, and if children are involved, it will be more difficult. However, if it is something you have made up your mind to go through, make sure you get the best help to be able to navigate through the process with minimal stress. You can consider online divorce if the divorce is no-fault and uncontested.