You or your spouse must have resided in Pennsylvania for at least six (6) months prior to filing your divorce papers with the Court. You must file your divorce papers in the Court of Common Pleas for the county in which either you or your spouse resides.
If you have minor children living with your spouse in another state for over six months then you should consider filing in that state as that court has jurisdiction over the children. You spouse can waive that jurisdiction in writing.
County of Filing:
You should file the divorce in the county your spouse lives in, or in the county that you both lived in when you separated, or in your county if your spouse lives out of state. You or your spouse must have a Pennsylvania address in the county of filing. Pennsylvania civilian residents living overseas may file in Pennsylvania if they have maintained their residency in Pennsylvania.
Active duty members of the military (or their spouses) may file in Pennsylvania if they have been stationed in Pennsylvania for six months or were residents of Pennsylvania when they entered active duty. Smart Divorce.com staff includes former active duty officers and enlisted personnel and are completely knowledgeable on the special military requirements and the “Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act”. Our staff prides themselves on the service they provide our military members.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE: NO-FAULT or FAULT ?
The court may decree a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of filing
OR when the marriage is irretrievably broken and an affidavit has been filed alleging that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years.
Fault Based Grounds:
1.Committed willful and malicious desertion period of at least one year. 2.Adultery. 3.By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse. 4.Bigamy. 5.Incarceration for at least 2 years. 6.Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.
WAITING PERIOD:You are required by law to wait ninety (90) days after filing your Complaint in Divorce before filing additional documents in your divorce case. During that waiting period, you must agree to all terms of property and debt division with your spouse, and document your agreement by completing and signing the Marital Settlement Agreement. You and your spouse must sign the agreement in front of a Notary Public. You should wait to until ninety (90) days have passed since you filed the Complaint to sign the completed Marital Settlement Agreement before the notary, because you also must each sign the “Acknowledgement” form (make copies), and this document may not be signed until ninety (90) days have passed since the filing of the Complaint. Both “Acknowledgements” must be signed within thirty (30) days of filing the final “Praecipe to Transmit Record” document (see below).
PROPERTY OF THE MARRIAGE:
In a divorce, the property (land, house, buildings, and items of personal property) owned (and debts owed) by the couple is divided between the parties. In an uncontested divorce, this division is accomplished by means of a Marital Separation Agreement (MSA). You and your spouse must agree to the property and debt division and memorialize your agreement in the Marital Separation Agreement, which will be incorporated by reference into the Decree of Divorce that ultimately ends your marriage. You may agree to divide the property any way you like, as long as a basic fairness is maintained. You do not need to list items already divided or not an important issue in the divorce. You may revise the MSA after receipt of the documents from us by sending an email with your changes. There is never a charge for revisions at any time up to one year.
If you cannot agree on any item of this division, the dissolution of marriage transforms into a contested divorce. If at the final hearing the divorce is still contested we do not provide advice for that hearing. You may need to consult an attorney or be prepared to tell the judge why you feel your requested division of property is fair.
Spousal Support is either agreed upon by the parties or determined by the judge in a contested hearing. We cannot give legal advice regarding spousal support but will include your request in the documents.
The questionnaire you fill out will outline the custody, visitation and support for the children. We will prepare the documents accordingly, and we will also prepare a Marital Separation Agreement (at no additional cost) which outlines in specific detail all the provisions regarding the children. Both parties must attend the parenting class or get a waiver. A list of the places in Pennsylvania to attend may be obtained from the court. Check with the court to see if you can attend online at: http://positiveparentingthroughdivorce.com/?lt_c=goo1&gclid=CM3g-J_VppMCFQu8iQodGDaf4w.
The child support will either be an amount you and your spouse agree upon, or it will be determined for you by the court, according to the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines. If you wish the court to calculate the amount then you will need to file the standardized Child Support Guidelines form and Child Support Income Statement/Affidavit which we provide. See “Pennsylvania Child Support Calculator” on any search engine such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.
You may have Joint Legal Custody or Sole Legal Custody. This determines how the decisions are made regarding the raising of the child(ren).
Physical custody may be with one residential parent or “SPLIT CUSTODY” where the child(ren) live a substantial time with each parent.
This can be any program agreed upon by the parties and may change from time to time. If the parties cannot agree then the state guidelines are in effect. State guidelines are outlined in the MSA provided with your documents. You do not need to list your present visitation agreement as it will change from time to time but you may if you wish. “No Visitation” or “Restricted Visitation” may be requested by supplying the reason on the questionnaire.
You must file the divorce documents in the Circuit Court in the county that you are filing in. Some court addresses for larger counties are as follows:
Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas: Front & Market Streets, Harrisburg, PA 17101 Phone: 717-780-6620 (Divorce Complaints are filed with the Prothonotary:) (717) 780-6520
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas: 300 Frick Building, 436 Grant Street, Room 114, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 Phone: (412) 350-5322
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas: 336 City Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19107 Phone: 215 686-2547
Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas: 50 North Duke Street, P.O. Box 83480, Lancaster, PA 17608-3480 Phone: 717-299-8041
Berks County Court of Common Pleas: Berks County Services Center, 633 Court Street, Reading, PA 19601 Phone: 610-478-6208
Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas: 455 West Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18105-1548 Phone: 610-782-3148 (civil)
Northampton County Court of Common Pleas: 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042 Phone: 610-559-6701
Erie County Court of Common Pleas:140 West Sixth Street, Room 201, Erie, PA 16501-1030 Phone: 814-451-6295
Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas: Lawrence County Government Center, 430 Court Street, New Castle, PA 16101 Phone: 724-656-1930
Bucks County Court of Common Pleas: 55 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA 18901 Phone: 215-348-6040
Delaware County Court of Common Pleas: 201 West Front Street, Media, PA 19063 Phone: 610-891-4550
Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas: County Courthouse, P.O. Box 311, Norristown, PA 19404 Phone: 610-278-3229
The court filing fees for a divorce in Pennsylvania is approximately $278.
If your spouse won't sign and must be served, then the sheriff may charge a fee of around $25 to serve your spouse.
If you don't know the whereabouts of your spouse, then your spouse will need to be served by publication. The average publication fee is approximately $75.
You may call the Clerk of the Court in your county to determine the exact fees in your county.
METHODS OF SERVICE:
1. The most common way is to have your spouse sign the documents AFTER you have filed the complaint with the court. You can hand deliver the documents , mail them or have a third party deliver them to your spouse. This method is available even though your spouse is incarcerated.
2. If your spouse will not sign or you not not sure if your spouse will sign then you can get service by having the sheriff in spouse’s county serve a copy of the filed documents along with other documents requiring spouse’s signature. You can contact the sheriff in any state to serve your spouse. You can also get service by Certified Mail, (Return Receipt Requested) if your spouse lives out of state. If your spouse is incarcerated then you can get service by having the prison/jail officials serve your spouse.
3. Service by publication. If you cannot find your spouse after a diligent search then you can publish. The publication fee for the newspaper is approximately $65 but varies for different counties. Upon the filing of the Affidavit the clerk shall direct that service of notice be made by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the complaint is filed. We provide all the required documents for service by publication.
Go to our questionnaire and get started today.