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Step By Step Guide to Divorce in Pennsylvania

Infographics on Eight Steps to divorce in Pennsylvania

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process for individuals and families. Pennsylvania, like other states, has its own set of laws and procedures governing divorce proceedings. Understanding the divorce process in Pennsylvania can help people navigate the legal system and make informed decisions about their future.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania’s divorce rate is 8.7 per 1,000 men and 9.6 per 1,000 women, slightly higher than the national average. Detailed data are given in the table.

Year Male Divorce Rate per 1,000 Female Divorce Rate per 1,000
2016 8.3 9.3
2017 8.2 9.3
2018 8.6 9.6
2019 8.7 9.6
2020 8.6 9.5

These statistics show that while both men and women have experienced slightly fluctuating divorce rates in Pennsylvania over the last five years, women tend to initiate slightly more divorces than men. It’s important to note that these statistics are only for Pennsylvania and may not reflect the divorce rates in other states or countries.

If you are considering a divorce in Pennsylvania, it is important to have a clear understanding of the steps involved in the process. In this guide, we’ll provide a step-by-step overview of the divorce process in Pennsylvania, including filing requirements, property division, spousal support, and child custody. Whether you’re just starting to consider divorce or are in the midst of the process, this guide will help you navigate your way forward.

Collect the necessary documents and information

It is important to know that there are certain residency requirements for those getting a divorce in Pennsylvania. In order to file for divorce, one spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing. The person filing for divorce must also have lived in the county where the lawsuit is filed for at least three months before filing the lawsuit. In addition to the residence requirements, other documents must be submitted:

  • copies of the marriage certificate;
  • birth certificates of children;
  • financial reports;
  • bank accounts;
  • statements from credit cards;
  • tax returns and other documents confirming income.

You will also need to provide any court orders or agreements relating to your marriage such as custody and support documents or property division agreements. In order to properly negotiate a divorce settlement, it is imperative that you provide an accurate and complete picture of your financial situation.

Check all Pennsylvania residency requirements

In order to begin the divorce process in Pennsylvania, it is important to make sure that you meet all residency requirements before filing. If there are doubts about the residence of one of the spouses, the court may require additional evidence.

It will be best to comply with all requirements regarding the place of residence. This will help to get greater guarantees of consideration of your case. And in case of any changes during the court process, have enough time to resolve all disputed issues.

Choose the most suitable method of divorce for you

There are three options for divorce: mediation, joint divorce or court proceedings. Taking into account personal circumstances, it is worth choosing the most effective one. A lawyer who should be consulted before starting the divorce process will help to understand all the details and make the right choice. Depending on the method chosen, correctly calculate the cost of divorce in PA.

Once you have verified that you have met the divorce residency requirements, you can file for divorce in Pennsylvania by preparing all the necessary documents.

After submitting all the documents, it is necessary to decide how to get a divorce in Pennsylvania.

File for divorce with the court in your jurisdiction

A few more documents must be added to the divorce application, namely:

  • a claim for divorce;
  • settlement agreement of spouses;
  • application for entering your documents into the register of court cases;
  • you must also pay all application fees and provide proof of service of your application.

The judge will decide on the further consideration of your case only after these documents have been submitted to the court.

After filing a divorce petition, both parties will have the opportunity to justify their decision. The judge may allow the couple to reach an out-of-court settlement or decide that further hearings are necessary to discuss issues such as alimony and child custody. The final decision on the course of the divorce and how the marriage should be dissolved will be made by the judge after all the necessary evidence has been presented and heard.

Give your spouse the divorce papers

Divorce documents can be submitted in several ways:

  • hire a professional bailiff or sheriff who will deliver the documents and provide proof of service;
  • send these documents to your spouse by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt. The registered letter must be sent to your spouse’s physical address and to the address of his/her attorney, if he/she has one.

After all the necessary documents have been served, your husband/wife must submit a service application to the court, which confirms that the service took place properly.

Attend all court hearings and comply with all necessary court orders

Both parties must attend all scheduled hearings. During these hearings, the spouses will have the opportunity to present testimony and evidence regarding their case and present their arguments. Each party may request supporting documents of the opponent’s evidence and call witnesses. In some cases, the court may issue temporary orders, so it is important to follow all the judge’s instructions during the divorce process.

The court can apply sanctions, or even close the case, if one of the spouses does not appear at the hearing or ignores the court order. Therefore, it is very important for both parties who decide to divorce in Pennsylvania to attend all hearings. This ensures that your rights will be protected throughout the process and that you will receive a fair divorce result.

Try to reach an amicable settlement with your spouse

In the process of divorce, spouses should discuss all aspects:

  • custody of children and visitation rights;
  • division of property and assets;
  • payment of alimony;
  • any other financial issues that need to be addressed, such as health insurance or taxes.

If the spouses have managed to agree and reach a compromise, a written agreement can be signed that outlines all the above aspects of the divorce. This document is submitted to the court, entered in the court register and only then finally approved by the judge. After that, it becomes legal separation on both sides. The settlement agreement is valid until any changes are made by court order.

Finalize the divorce

File the divorce decree with the court and get a certified copy of it from the court office.

The following details are indicated in the decision on divorce:

  • order of guardianship of children;
  • alimony payments;
  • distribution of property;
  • any other agreements reached between the two parties during the marriage.

Once a divorce decree has been filed with the court, it can take up to two weeks for it to be processed and finalized. After that, both parties can get a certified copy of this document at the court office. The decision on divorce becomes valid after it is signed by both parties. The couple is now legally separated and no longer married in Pennsylvania.