Pennsylvania Divorce & Separation
Separations and divorces are common in every state and each state has its own laws and rules governing the process. What are the requirements for getting a divorce in Pennsylvania? Is mediation a requirement before you can get a Pennsylvania divorce? What is the law on Pennsylvania annulments? Start finding the answers to your Pennsylvania divorce questions here.
Pennsylvania Legal Separation:
Pennsylvania has no formal procedure for legal separation, but the parties can enter into a written agreement for issues such as property division, custody, and support. For more information about the differences between divorce, separation and annulment, see Ending a Marriage or Taking a Break.
Grounds for Divorce/Fault ' No Fault:
Pennsylvania has both fault and no-fault divorce. For more information about what that means, see The Divorce Process: From Separation to Final Judgment. Your grounds (or reasons) for wanting a divorce are set out in a document called a Complaint for Divorce that you file with your local Court of Common Pleas. Once the judgment for divorce is granted (i.e. the judge approves your divorce), you will become an unmarried person again. Appropriate no-fault grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania include the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, with evidence via affidavit of the consent of each party and the parties' having lived separately for at least two years. Appropriate fault grounds for divorce include:
1) malicious desertion (absence for cohabitation for 1 year or longer);
3) cruel treatment;
4) willful bigamy;
5) prison sentence for 2 years or more;
6) intolerable indignities.
Residency/Where to File for Divorce:
One of the parties to the marriage must have been a resident of the state for six months preceding the filing. You will file your paperwork with the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you or your spouse reside or where you lived while married, depending on your circumstances. The County Clerk's Office of the Court of Common Pleas will be managing your paperwork with the court.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
In Pennsylvania, there are no separate divorce procedures for 'special' divorces, though uncontested divorces benefit from the obvious savings that come from resolving affairs on one's own rather than litigating them with law firms that are charging by the hour or even by the minute. In an uncontested divorce, the parties may reach written agreement on all issues resulting from the marriage, including finances, division of property and debt, custody and visitation of children, and spousal and child support. There are even forms online to facilitate this process.
Pennsylvania Online Divorce Services:
Divorce Mediation in Pennsylvania:
Mediation is an option that many divorcing couples choose when working out the specific terms of their settlement agreement. It's less expensive than hiring two lawyers, and perhaps more importantly for the long run, it can keep the parties from becoming adversaries. In Pennsylvania, the court may order parties to attend an orientation about mediation, except in cases where there has been domestic violence. If after the orientation the parties agree to mediation, the court can order certain issues to be mediated.
An annulment is when a court declares your marriage legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with. A marriage can be annulled due to bigamy, consanguinity (too closely related), mental disorder, or when one spouse was under 18. To seek an annulment from the Court of Common Pleas, you will need to file an action to have your marriage declared void (declaratory judgment action).
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