There’s a common misperception that you must file for divorce in the state in which your marriage took place. Though that’s not accurate, there are some limitations on where you can file. Before you can seek to have a marriage terminated through a divorce proceeding in Pennsylvania, you must first meet a number of procedural requirements, including verification that the courts in Pennsylvania will have jurisdiction over the proceedings. The first step is to meet the residency requirements. If you file a complaint, but don’t meet the residency requirements, your legal action will simply be dismissed.
In order to file a complaint for divorce in Pennsylvania, at least one of the parties must have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months. There is no requirement that both parties meet the residency requirement. A Pennsylvania resident can sue a non-resident for divorce in a Pennsylvania court, or a Pennsylvania resident may be sued in Pennsylvania by a non-resident plaintiff.
In addition to the state residency requirement, there’s also a residency requirement to determine which county court is the proper venue for the divorce filing. If the defendant lives in Pennsylvania, the divorce complaint must be filed in the county in which the defendant resides. If the defendant lives in another state, the plaintiff may bring the action in the county where he or she claims residence. If the defendant lives in the state, the filing party may bring the lawsuit in the “county of matrimonial domicile,” i.e., where the parties lived during marriage, but only if the plaintiff has continued to live there.
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