Divorce actions in Pennsylvania are just like any other lawsuits. A divorce begins when one spouse files a complaint in court, and it is served upon the other spouse. If the receiving spouse fails to respond, the divorce may proceed without the other spouse being represented or their rights being protected.
In Pennsylvania, grounds for divorce can be FAULT or NO-FAULT. However, before someone can file for divorce, one or both spouses must have lived in the state for a period of at least six months.
Difference Between Mutual Consent & No-Consent
If the spouses agree on getting the divorce, it is called a mutual consent divorce. If it is a mutual consent divorce, then the court may grant a divorce 90 days after the service of the complaint on the other spouse, and after the parties have filed the Affidavit of Consent.
On the other hand, if one of the spouses does not consent to the divorce – a no-consent divorce – it will take longer to obtain a divorce.
Under the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, in a no-consent divorce, the parties are required to be separated for one year before they can proceed with a non-consent no-fault divorce.
This means that the spouses must live separate and apart for at least one year before a divorce can be granted.
Once the Parties Have Been Apart for Two Years
Once the spouses have lived separate and apart for one year, either spouse can sign an Affidavit Under Section 3301(d) of the Divorce Code (Form 8). In this affidavit, the party states that they have lived apart from their spouse for one year.
In addition to signing the Affidavit Under Section 3301(d) of the Divorce Code, the filing party must also serve their spouse with a Notice of Intention to Request Entry of Section 3301(d) Divorce Decree and Counter-Affidavit (Form 9). This way, the other party has the opportunity to raise claims or oppose the divorce if they desire to.
If the other spouse chooses not to oppose the divorce or raise claims, there is no need to take any action on the Counter-Affidavit. In this case, a divorce decree may be issued in as few as 20 days. At Cairns Law Offices, we use a special waiver to avoid the 20 day waiting period so your divorce can be granted even faster.
On a final note, a spouse cannot obtain a divorce against an unrepresented defendant/spouse if they are in the military. If your spouse is in the military and not represented by counsel, you will also have to sign and file an Affidavit of Non-Military Service (Form 10).
Searching for a divorce lawyer in Pennsylvania? Contact Cairns Law Offices today!