Pennsylvania Divorce Steps

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A dissolution of marriage in Pennsylvania is governed by rules mentioned in the family law of the state. These laws are structured according to the needs and requirements of the residents. It is necessary to fulfill the criteria for residence of approximately 24 weeks in Pennsylvania before proceeding of divorce case. The divorce petition is normally filed in the county where a petitioner resides. Other option is that a petition can be filed in the county in which other spouse resides. Pennsylvania divorce laws grant divorce on both fault and no-fault basis. But, it is important to know the complete procedure and Pennsylvania divorce steps before applying for a termination of marriage there.

Pennsylvania Divorce Steps and required paperwork:

  • The Petitioner must file a Complaint in the court clerk's Office and disburse a filing fee

  • Along with the Complaint, the Petitioner must attach "The Notice to Defend and Claim Rights"

  • Along with the original Complaint, there must be two copies of the signed Complaint

  • The court clerk retains the original and returns two copies - one for the Petitioner's personal file and the other for service to the Defendant

  • The court clerk gives a docket number. This number represents the identity of the case in the legal terms

  • If the Defendant resides in this state, the Petitioner must serve the Complaint and the Notice within thirty days of the filing date

  • If the Defendant resides outside this state, the Petitioner must serve the documents within ninety days of the filing date

  • The service is done by one of the following methods in Pennsylvania Divorce case:
    • Personal Service: Any person (except the Petitioner) hands over the divorce documents (Complaint, Notice to Defend and Claim Rights) to the Defendant personally and signs a completed Affidavit of Service (Form 2a)
    • Acceptance of Service: The Defendant completes and signs Form 2b wherein it states that the Defendant personally accepts the divorce documents
    • Service by Certified Mail: The Petitioner mails the divorce documents by certified mail, return receipt requested and restricted delivery. The Petitioner completes Form 2c and the returned green card is attached to this form

  • The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure states that prior to proceeding with this sort of divorce the partners must be residing apart and separate for two years. If the partners have completed this requirement before filing the Complaint, then one can proceed with the divorce

  • Any one partner may sign Form 9 (Affidavit under 3301(d) of the Divorce Code). This partner must file an original copy along with two copies in the court clerk's office. One of these two copies must be served to the other partner

  • The partner (who has filed Form 9) must also file the following:
    • Form 12 (Notice of Intention to Request Entry of Divorce Decree)
    • Form 11 (blank counter-affidavit)

  • The partner must serve Form 9, Form 12 and Form 11 by first class mail. If the other partner has hired a lawyer, one copy of all the three must be mailed to this lawyer

  • Then, this partner must file Form number 10 and 13 (Certificate of Service Forms) with the court clerk

  • The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure specifies that twenty days must pass after service of Form 12 and filing of the Form 6

  • The court also demands the filing of the following forms:
    • Rule 236 form (Form 8)
    • Report of Social Security Numbers form (Form 7)
    • Divorce Information Sheet (Form 5)
    • Stamped and self-addressed envelopes for both the partners so that the court can mail the final divorce decree to both

  • If the court feels that some corrections must be made to the paperwork, then it notifies the partners of the same. After the court has the corrected paperwork, a final divorce decree is entered

In this way, the paperwork of the Pennsylvania divorce has to be done. Along with the submission of the documents, there are many important issues that are to be decided in the due course of a divorce case. These issues are as follows:

  • Child custody and child visitation
  • Child support
  • Alimony or spousal maintenance
  • Property distribution

These matters can be solved without the actual court procedure if partners agree to solve them with the help of mediation process or discussions. There are many ways to find new solutions on the conflicts between spouses. They can be used to end a divorce procedure quickly and in a cheaper way. But, if partners are on unfavorable terms with each other for a long time, the contested case is the only option they can use. The Pennsylvania divorce steps include provisions for contested case steps like discovery, trials, hearings, cross-examinations, etc. After a thorough process, the court solves the matters related to divorce and announces the partners to be legally divorced thereafter.

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