In order to legally qualify to file an uncontested divorce in the state of Pennsylvania, you or your spouse must be a resident for at least six months. In addition, the minimum six month residency requirement requires that you or your spouse has been a resident for the 6 months immediately prior to filing for an uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania. Make sure you fulfill Pennsylvania's residency requirement in order to avoid having your uncontested divorce dismissed by the court.
Sometimes individuals believe they can only file for an uncontested divorce in the state they were married in. Your marriage did not have to take place in Pennsylvania in order for you to file your uncontested divorce in the state of Pennsylvania. A person can only file for an uncontested divorce in the state they were married in if he or she is a resident of that state.
The term residency is sometimes confused with the term domiciliary. A resident of Pennsylvania is someone who is who at least lives part time in the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a person's domiciliary if the state of Pennsylvania is the primary or permanent state where he or she lives.
Domicile is often regarded as the person's home. For example, if a person is registered to vote in PA, has a Pennsylvania driver's license and a permanent residence in Pennsylvania, yet travels out of the state for military of business reasons for extended periods of time – his or her domicile is still Pennsylvania. Often a person's residence is the same as their domiciliary.
A temporary absence is allowed during the six month Pennsylvania residency requirement. You or your spouse do not have to be physically in the state for each day of those six months. There are a few different reasons which you may have had to leave the state:
- business; or
- visiting family or friends.
The idea is that these absences from the state of Pennsylvania were only temporary and you did not change your residency while in another state or country.
Should you find that you do not meet the residency requirement, there are a couple of options available. If your spouse meets the bona fide residency requirement he or she can file for an uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania. Otherwise, you can establish your residency. While establishing your residency inform your uncontested divorce lawyer that you are in the process of establishing your residency, but would like to start the paperwork and have it ready for when you meet your residency requirement.