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Pennsylvania Divorce Process

There are a few different ways to end a marriage - such as annulment or legal separation - but the most common way is through a divorce. The divorce process can vary from state to state and, depending on the circumstances, can be either be complicated and lengthy or quick and relatively easy. Even in the easiest divorces, however, there are specific rules that must be followed.

In Pennsylvania, as in most other states, there are specific procedures that must be followed in the divorce process. Below is a step-by-step guide for no-fault divorces that don't involve complicated issues. Generally, a divorce is considered uncomplicated if there aren't any disputes related to alimony or property division. If there are such disputes, but one spouse fails to raise them, he or she could lose the right make such claims once the "divorce decree" is entered.

Pennsylvania Divorce Process at a Glance

While it's important to read the actual statute when researching a topic, it can help to read a summary of the statute in plain English to get a better understanding of the law. Below you'll find some basic information relating to the divorce process in Pennsylvania, as well as links to the relevant statutes.

  • 231 Pa. Code Section 1920.1, et seq. (Actions of Divorce or for Annulment of Marriage)
  • Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23 Pa.C.S.A. Domestic Relations Section 3101, et seq. (Divorce)
Step-by-Step Process for a Consent Divorce
  1. File the "Complaint," and be sure to attach the "Notice to Defend" and "Verification."
  2. Serve the documents filed in step one within 30 days of the filing date if your spouse lives in Pennsylvania and 90 days if your spouse lives outside of Pennsylvania.
  3. Wait 90 days after serving your spouse.
  4. File an "Affidavit of Consent" and one of the following:
    a. "Waiver of Notice"
    b. "Notice of Intention to Request Entry of Divorce Decree"
  5. File a "Praecipe to Transmit Record" ("praecipe" means an order requesting a legal document) and any other forms required by your county (including a proposed "Divorce Decree").
  6. The "Divorce Decree" will be mailed to each party once the divorce is final.
Step-by-Step Process for a Non-Consent Divorce
  1. Same as above.
  2. Same as above.
  3. Wait the required time period*:
    a. One year if your separation started on or after December 5, 2016\
    b. Two years if your separation started before December 5, 2016
  4. Either party may file an "Affidavit under 3301(d) of the Divorce Code," "Notice of Intention to Request Entry of Section 3301(d) Divorce Decree" and "Counter-Affidavit." If your spouse isn't represented by a lawyer, you're required to file an "Affidavit of Non-Military Service."
  5. Serve the documents filed in step 4 on the other party.
  6. Wait 20 days after serving the other party.
  7. File a "Praecipe to Transmit Record" and any other forms required by your county.
  8. The "Divorce Decree" will be mailed to each party once the divorce is final.

*any time that the parties were separated before filing is included in meeting the time of separation requirement.

Pennsylvania Divorce: Court Forms and Documents

The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania provides links to county specific forms, general forms (including the ones listed above), and a helpful guide to the Pennsylvania divorce process.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Pennsylvania Divorce Process: Related Resources

If you'd like more resources and information related to this topic, you can visit the links below:

Have Questions About the Divorce Process in Pennsylvania? Talk to a Lawyer

There's a set of rules that govern how a person can obtain a divorce, and the failure to comply with these rules can result in delays for your divorce. Luckily, you don't have go through the divorce process on your own. You can contact skilled divorce lawyer in Pennsylvania who will have experience with the divorce process and who can ensure that your divorce goes as smoothly as possible.

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