How Uncontested Divorces Work in Pennsylvania
Divorce trends in Pennsylvania reflect those throughout the U.S.: overall divorce rates continue to tumble while the rate of uncontested divorces continues to rise. State divorce lawyers are generally unsurprised by the uptick in uncontested divorces as they are generally both cheaper and quicker. They also provide estranged parents much greater control, such as being able to shield their young children from the proceedings.
Divorce Requirements in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania allows you to file for divorce on three grounds:
- 12 months of separation
- Mutual consent and no fault
The third item in the list is what we are focused on here, and there is no waiting period required. There is a residency requirement in that either you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing. It does not matter in which state you were originally married. Another common question is whether you can get divorced while pregnant. The answer is yes. While some states require babies to be born prior to divorce in order to clarify paternity and custody issues, Pennsylvania does not.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
In Pennsylvania, the official term for an uncontested divorce is mutual consent divorce, which is sometimes referred to as a no-fault divorce as well. In legal circles, it is also known as a 3301c divorce, which refers to the state statute that defines the concept. An uncontested divorce involves the spouses cooperating and negotiating to reach their own settlement agreement. This approach minimizes the involvement of the courts and allows the spouses to have autonomy throughout the entire process.
How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Pennsylvania
From a technical standpoint, the first step is to acquire all the legal forms required for a divorce and complete them. While having the assistance of a divorce lawyer is not required, it is highly recommended. The typical uncontested divorce requires more than a dozen legal forms, including Self-Represented Party Entry of Appearance and Form 1 Notice to Defend and Divorce Complaint. An attorney can help you identify the forms you need and complete them.
Once those forms are completed, you then submit them to the Clerk of Court along with a filing fee. The fee is generally around $300, and if you cannot afford to pay it, it may be possible to have it waived by petitioning the court for relief. The next step is to serve your spouse with divorce papers. This must be officialized, but if you and your spouse are working together, it is as simple as completing the appropriate document and having it notarized. Otherwise, it must be completed via Personal Service, such as through the Sheriff’s Office, or by Certified Mail with return receipt requested.
Reaching the Settlement Agreement
If you are a parent, you may be required at this point to attend a parenting class, depending on the county in which you filed. The next step is for each spouse to complete a financial disclosure and provide it to the other spouse. This serves as the basis for a settlement agreement. Once the agreement is reached, you must document it as required by law and submit it to the court.
Court Approval and Waiting Period
There is a mandatory 90-day waiting period between the original filing and the spouses filing consent. Therefore, you cannot have your divorce finalized until this phase has been completed. Once you have submitted these documents to the Court and the Court deems that it has all relevant documents, it will review the agreement. If all is in order, it will be approved by the Divorce Decree.
Local Assistance With Your Uncontested Divorce
While you may not need a divorce lawyer to file and officialize an uncontested divorce, having one can help you achieve a settlement agreement that benefits both parties sooner and more easily. If you would like to meet to discuss your options for an uncontested divorce, you can schedule that appointment with the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner by calling 215-886-1266 or by using our online contact form.