The first step is to file a divorce complaint. For a no-fault divorce, the plaintiff should file under sections 3301(c) and 3301(d) of the Divorce Code. Section 3301(c) is mutual consent no-fault divorce, which means both parties agree to the divorce. Section 3301(d) can be used to obtain a no-fault divorce when opposing party does not consent. If you are requesting alimony, attorney’s fees, or to divide marital property (equitable distribution); you will need to file additional counts in the divorce complaint. Whether or not you should add any ancillary claims depends on your individual circumstance.
After the plaintiff files the divorce complaint with the county Prothonotary Office, the plaintiff must serve the opposing party. If the opposing party lives in Pennsylvania, service must be completed within 30 days. After proper service is made, the plaintiff is required to file an affidavit of service within 10 days of service. There are different ways to properly serve a divorce complaint; however, first class mail is not one of them.
After service, both parties must wait 90 days. After 90 days, both parties can sign the required forms consenting to the divorce. Each party must sign the affidavit of consent and waiver of notice of intention to request entry of a divorce decree. The affidavit of consent is agreeing that the marriage is irretrievably broken, 90 days have passed since service of the divorce complaint, and that the parties do consent to the entry of a final decree of divorce. The waiver of notice is consenting to the divorce decree being entered without any further notice, and that there are no outstanding claims for alimony, equitable distribution, or other potential ancillary claims. Both documents need to be filed with the Court. If opposing party refuses to sign the documents, there are outstanding claims, or a counter claims is filed, then you will have to proceed differently.
Finally, you file the praecipe to transmit the record. This is a document requesting the Prothonotary’s Office to forward the documents to the Judge for review. Most counties will require a divorce information sheet as well. The content and requirements of a divorce information sheet will vary from county to county. The Judge will review the file and sign the divorce decree if everything was properly served and filed.
No two divorce cases are the same. It is always best to consult with an attorney to discuss what is best for your situation.