How To Get A Divorce In Pennsylvania
Generally, getting a divorce in Pennsylvania is similar to other states. However, there are vital differences you will need to know before starting the process of ending a marriage the correct way.
Here’s a short breakdown of how to get a divorce in the State of Pennsylvania and where to turn if you need help.
Getting a Divorce in Pennsylvania with Mediation:
In mediation, the goal is a fair outcome for both parties, especially if the settlement involves children, support issues, and/or assets & liabilities. Without a prenuptial agreement, it’s challenging to sort through complicated finances and settle child custody arrangements. A divorce attorney can help manage all the legal minutiae, dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s, however, in Pennsylvania divorce proceedings often bring in professional mediators to expedite the case’s settlement.
Overall, starting divorce proceedings is the easy part, so here’s how to do it the right way to give yourself a better chance of a successful, less expensive and equitable outcome.
How to File for Divorce in Pennsylvania
Filing the proper paperwork is step one in Pennsylvania, no matter which county you call home. There’s a specific document that you have to complete for your local county courthouse, known as a divorce procedure form. It goes through all eight steps in the divorce process, including standard exceptions and other situations.
As outlined in the document, you need to attach two additional forms: a “notice to defend and divorce complaint” and a “verification form.” Those forms are also available at county courthouses throughout the state. It’s critical that the filing is correct to finish a divorce as soon as possible. A divorce mediator and/or divorce attorney can guide a person through these processes.
Once a complaint is filed in court, a person has 30 days to inform the other party if they live in-state; if they live out of state, you have up to 90 days to “serve the papers.”
After that, the next step is “serving the papers” to your spouse, which you can do in three ways: in-person, by mail, or through a third party, such as a courier or a sheriff. From then on, the ball is in the other person’s court, either to consent to the complaint or not. A divorce mediator can assist with these steps.
Depending on which type of consent you and your spouse agree to, the divorce itself can go through relatively quicker than other family court cases. Every kind of consent requires specific procedures to get a divorce decree finalized, however.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Pennsylvania?
The length of time it takes to get a divorce in Pennsylvania varies case-to-case. Still, there are a few general time frames to expect. If both spouses agree to end the marriage, and the state receives all of the proper paperwork, the minimum period is 90 days before a judge can finalize the divorce.
What Does a Divorce in Pennsylvania Cost?
When it comes to divorce in Pennsylvania, the average cost to complete the process is well over $10,000, when the parties do not use a mediator. The mediator will facilitate the entire process for much less and will provide legal information, rather than legal advice. This means the parties can negotiate with one another rather than through two costly divorce attorneys. It is important to point out, however, when the negotiations are complete, the parties can always let a “review attorney” advise on the terms, if they so choose.
Typically, divorce costs increase if parties cannot reach a settlement or one party contests. That’s why a mutually agreed-upon divorce will go significantly smoother than a messy separation with a lengthy dispute. Disputes can take place concerning issues of finance, custody, parenting and support
Filing for divorce, correctly, takes time to get the procedural and settlement issues correct. But the high price tag makes contacting a mediator an attractive option for those who want a fair, acceptable and complete divorce. When mediators can’t settle individual disputes, lawyers and litigation come into play and the process can become troublesome in many ways.
Have a question about divorce mediation? Contact us for a free consultation here.