DIVORCE LAW IN PENNSYLVANIA: What are the basic steps necessary for filing a Divorce action?

1.  You must meet the residency requirements.  You and/or your spouse must have lived in PA for at least 6 months immediately prior to filing for divorce.  23 Pa.C.S.A. 3304(b);

2.  You must have “grounds” to end the marriage.  In Pennsylvania, you can either file for a “no-fault” divorce or a divorce based on “fault.”  Most divorces filed are “no-fault.”  However, a court may grant a divorce based on “fault” if the spouse has done the following: (1)  abandonment without a reasonable cause, for a period of 1 or more years;  (2)  adultery;  (3)  cruel and barbarous treatment of you in a way that put your life or health at risk;  (4)  imprisonment, where your spouse was sentenced to incarceration for 2 or more years; and  (5)  bigamy, if your spouse never was property divorced from a previous marriage; 

3.  You must file divorce complaint and have a copy served upon your spouse. The service must be verified, i.e. certified restricted mail and/or personal service;

4.  If your spouse disagrees with the divorce complaint, he or she will have the opportunity to file documents as to why they disagree.  This is what is called a “contested divorce.”  In this case, court appearances must be attended.  Should your spouse not disagree with anything, they can sign a waiver and consent to the divorce documents.  This is what is called an “uncontested divorce” and both parties need not make any court appearances.  Furthermore, if a certain amount of time passes and your spouse refuses to sign the waiver and consent papers, you may be able to proceed with the finalization of the divorce as an “uncontested divorce” despite the fact that the other party does nothing.  The waiting period is usually 2 years from date of separation and/or the service of the divorce complaint;

5.  If there is property that needs to be divided, or if one party needs financial support from the other, you will have to enter into a property settlement agreement/postnuptial agreement out-of-court, or enter into a series of court hearings.

To help you navigate through a divorce, either simple or complex, obtain the services of Marinaro Law Firm.  We provide experienced, competent and aggressive representation.