Does an Uncontested Divorce in Pennsylvania Let You Skip Court?

We’ve all heard horror stories about long, ugly divorce battles. Instead of moving forward with their lives, once-loving couples put all their resources into going to court and trying to hurt each other, or at the very least to “win.” If you and your spouse live in Pennsylvania and are in agreement with how you want to end your marriage, you can skip court entirely by pursuing an uncontested divorce. Also known as a “mutual consent divorce” or a “no-fault divorce,” in Pennsylvania, an uncontested divorce is possible when both spouses agree on all the issues. Ian uncontested divorce allows spouses to finalize their divorce quickly, cheaply and with no emotional drama. If neither party is seeking support and there is no property to divide, the divorce itself can be finalized before any custody or child support issues are worked out. If you and your spouse have property to divide, or one person is seeking support, then those issues need to be worked out before the divorce is finalized.

The Mutual Consent Divorce Process

In Pennsylvania, a mutual consent divorce applies when couples have been separated for yes than a year. In order to obtain a mutual consent divorce, couples must state that their marriage is irretrievably broken and be willing to sign an affidavit stating their intent to end it. If all of those elements are present, then the process is simple and relatively painless.

It starts with a Complaint in Divorce being filed with the Prothonotary/Clerk of Courts by one of the spouses. The spouse that completes and files the Complaint will be the Plaintiff, while the other becomes the Defendant. After filing, the Plaintiff spouse has to “serve” or ensure that the other spouse receives a copy of the paperwork according to the rules of Pennsylvania. Service must be done within thirty days of filing the complaint.

Ninety days after the Defendant spouse has been served, both spouses need to sign an Affidavit of Consent. This document says that each spouse agrees to the divorce moving forward. Once the Affidavits of Consent are signed, each spouse can also sign a “Waiver of Notice” to skip any remaining waiting periods before asking for the final divorce decree. Once all documents have been signed, the Plaintiff spouse needs to submit all the paperwork to the Prothonotary/Clerk of Courts with a Praecipe to Transmit, which is a document showing the court you followed all the rules and asking for the entry of the divorce decree. Once submitted, the paperwork will be reviewed and approved by a judge for signature of the Final Decree of Divorce. Certified copies will be sent to both spouses and the marriage will officially be dissolved.

An uncontested divorce is easy to accomplish if you and your spouse don’t have children or aren’t arguing about assets or support. Things can be more complicated when there are children involved, though custody and child support can be negotiated at any time, either before or after the marriage is legally over. Many couples work with attorneys to ensure that they have not overlooked any important legal issues or to help with terms of child custody and support while still proceeding with an uncontested divorce to save time, money and headaches.
If you are considering divorce and would like to speak to an experienced, compassionate attorney who can help you get through the process as painlessly as possible, contact us today to set up a time to meet and discuss your situation.