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PENNSYLVANIA DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Pennsylvania. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.
Divorce in Pennsylvania Made Easy (See Pennsylvania Divorce Help Center)
- Time Frame: In a mutual consent divorce, where both spouses are working together toward agreement, the parties submit the documents to finalize the divorce 90 days after the Complaint for Divorce is served. Then, it generally takes fourteen (14) days from the date of the filing of the final papers.
- Where to File: Court of Common Pleas. "Court of Common Pleas, _____________ County, Pennsylvania". (See Pennsylvania Divorce Court Addresses)
- Statute Statutes: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated, Title 23.
- Name of Action: Complaint for Divorce.
- Name of Parties: Plaintiff, the name of the filer, and Defendant, the name of the other party.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Both no-fault and fault.
- Primary Documents Filed: Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce. (See PA Divorce Forms List With Explanations)
- Physical Separation Required: No. To obtain a divorce in Pennsylvania, parties may file for divorce on the grounds of 3301(c), which is for couples that both agree to the divorce.
- Separation Time to File: Living separate and apart for two years. In a 3301(d), couples must have been separated for two years, regardless of whether both spouses agree to the divorce. If you file under Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (mutual consent) 3301(c) there is no living separate and apart period to meet.
- Legal Separation Permitted: Yes, when the parties enter into an agreement on "reasonable terms."
- No-Fault Grounds: No-Fault by mutual consent, which means the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action; or Irretrievable breakdown, which means living separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. (See Pennsylvania Laws for Divorce)
- Residency Requirement: Either spouse must be a resident of the state of Pennsylvania for at least six months prior to filing.
- Mediation Required: Pennsylvania does not provide for mandatory divorce mediation.
- Counseling Required: The court may order counseling for a period or 90 to 120 days if it determines the spouses have a reasonable chance of reconciliation. Either spouse may request three mandatory sessions. The marriage is irretrievably broken when one spouse says no reconciliation can be reached. In addition, counseling sessions may also be ordered in conjunction with child custody.
- Parenting Classes Required: Parenting classes are mandatory in certain counties. These classes may be required for all parents who are divorcing. The classes range in length and you are given a Certificate of Completion to provide to the court. The classes are often held at the courthouse or online.
- Filing Fee: The divorce-filing fee varies from county to county, but typically ranges from $125 to $350 in Pennsylvania. (Form for Waiving Filing Fees for Pennsylvania)
- Where to File for Child Support: The collection of child support can be enforced administratively by a variety of routines including wage withholding, income tax refund interception, collection of lottery winnings, suspension of drivers, licenses, property execution, liens. More information about Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement can be found at the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: Pennsylvania determines child support by using the Income Shares Model, which estimates the amount of support that would have been available if the marriage had not failed.
- Property Division: Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state and uses a dual classification routine.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property is marital.
- Attendance at Hearing: No.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: Generally, marital misconduct occurring during the marriage is not to be considered in equitable division of property. Although marital misconduct is not to be considered, it may be considered in evaluating other factors, such as dissipation of marital property.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: Mailing the divorce documents to your spouse by Certified Mail with a return-receipt requested completes proper service.
- Learn More About Pennsylvania Divorce.
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