How to Get a Divorce in Pennsylvania Without a Lawyer

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Pennsylvania is a no-fault state for divorces, which means that two people may end a marriage and file for divorce without specifically stating that either party was at fault for the failure of the marriage. In Pennsylvania, you can file for divorce without hiring a lawyer if you have an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are those in which both parties agree to the divorce and come to an agreement about the division of property, alimony and child custody. If parties cannot agree on these terms, you will need to hire a lawyer to represent you in divorce court.

Obtain a packet of divorce documents from the Pennsylvania county in which you reside; you will have to pay a fee for this packet. The packet contains all the documents needed to file for divorce: Complaint for Divorce, Decree of Divorce, Declaration under the Child Custody Act, Child Custody Jurisdiction form, Marital Settlement Agreement, Verification for Consent required by both parties, Uniform Support Petition, Summons Personal Service on an Individual, Process Service Memorandum, Non-Military Affidavit, Financial Affidavit, Motion for Health Insurance Coverage and Final Judgment Modifying Child Support.

Print out Pennsylvania divorce documents from a legal website like edivorcepapers.com. These are the same divorce papers you can obtain from your county courthouse. Legal websites usually offer instructions for filling out the documents.

Complete a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) to outline your agreements regarding the division of assets, repayment of debt, alimony, child support and custody.

Complete a financial statement from both parties in the divorce.

Fill out the Petition or Complaint form, Consent, Appearance or Waiver form, Child Custody Jurisdiction form and the Final Judgment or Decree.

Sign all the legal documents in front of a notary public. Both parties will need to be present to sign documents such as the Marital Settlement Agreement.

File the documents with the County Clerk's office in a Pennsylvania county in which one of the parties has resided for at least six months and pay the filing fees. After filing the papers, your spouse will be given the chance to file an answer for divorce before the schedules a court hearing for your divorce. Your spouse has 30 days to file an answer if he lives in Pennsylvania, 60 days if he lives outside of Pennsylvania, but within the United States, and 90 days if he lives outside the United States.

Attend the court hearing to answer questions about your understanding of the divorce documents and agreements that you have signed. The judge will review your case and may approve your divorce at the hearing or ask that you submit additional information before judgment can be made. Your judge may wish to make changes to your divorce agreement or schedule separate hearings for child custody and support agreements.

Tips

  • Apply with your area's local legal aid office to see if you fall within the income guidelines to receive help with filling out the divorce documents and filing for divorce. Many areas have a program that provides free or low-cost help with a variety of legal services to those who are unable to afford an attorney.

References

About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.

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