What Is the Timeline for a No-Contest Divorce in Pennsylvania?
Since 2019, divorce rates have been on the rise. According to Business Insider, the physical, mental and emotional stresses of a nearly two-year-long COVID-19 pandemic are wearing on people, with those 27% of marriages in people age 20 to 24 ending in divorce in 2020. When two people want to end their marriage quickly and without a long court battle, a no-contest divorce may offer an ideal timeline for both parties.
Choosing a No-Contest Divorce
A no-contest divorce is different from a no-fault divorce. In a no-fault divorce, you and your ex-partner agree that you’re incompatible for marriage and neither party is to blame. A no-contest divorce means that you and your ex-spouse agree on the grounds for the divorce. Both a fault and a no-fault divorce can be uncontested in Pennsylvania.
Filing a Summons
The first step in a no-contest divorce is filing a summons. The summons is filed in court and to your spouse. The partner who receives the summons is called the defendant. The defendant has 20 days to respond to the summons. As soon as they accept and sign the affidavit, your divorce lawyer may immediately file divorce papers with the court. If the defendant doesn’t respond within 20 days, you as the plaintiff can have your attorney file for divorce in court.
Using a Notary Public
If the defendant doesn’t plan to contest the divorce, they can sign the affidavit in front of a notary public. You can sign the papers at the same time, then your attorney can file them with the court. This may be faster than using a summons if you and your ex-partner agree to a no-contest divorce.
Pennsylvania Waiting Period
Pennsylvania law requires a 90-day waiting period in lieu of the one-year waiting period. To do this, both parties must agree on all issues before the filing and before the papers are handed to a judge. You and your ex-spouse agree to not contest any issues, including child custody, spousal or child support or the division of property.
Filing for Divorce in County Court
The next step in a no-contest divorce is filing papers with the county clerk where the plaintiff resides. Once papers are filed with the court, the timeline is out of your hands, your ex-spouse’s hands and your attorney’s hands. Some counties have busier family courts than others. In general, it may take a family court judge six weeks to six months to read, approve of and sign the papers after the completion of the 90-day waiting period. Your attorney may have an idea of the court’s current caseload at the time of your filing, and they may be able to give you a more accurate estimate of how long it might take the judge to sign your paperwork.
You will receive a letter with a court date regarding your no-contest divorce. You must appear in person to sign the documents in front of the judge. It’s a good idea to have your divorce lawyer present at this court proceeding to review the paperwork and make sure everything is in order. This court appearance is typically brief, although you may have to wait for other cases to be processed during the court’s operational hours.
Although remarriage might be the last thing on your mind after a divorce, you may want to know if there’s a waiting period for it in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, there is no waiting requirement for remarriage after a divorce.
Anyone considering a no-contest divorce in Pennsylvania should speak with a divorce lawyer for additional information about the process and to determine whether or not it’s the best course of action. Knowledge of the typical timeline for this process will help you plan for your personal and financial future. To schedule a consultation with the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner, call 215-886-1266, or fill out our online form to be put in touch with our Jenkintown divorce attorney.