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Pennsylvania No Fault Divorce Process | 3 Step Divorce

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This easy to use online divorce is a "do it yourself (without a lawyer)" solution for any uncontested divorce (with or without children) that will be filed in the state of Pennsylvania. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse are in agreement and eliminates the stress and expense of settling your divorce in the Pennsylvania courts .

With 3StepDivorce TM you can complete and print your Pennsylvania online divorce forms (including a marital settlement agreement) instantly. Then, follow our step-by-step filing procedures to file your divorce in PA in a timely, professional, and hassle free fashion. The online software is designed to give you full control of the Pennsylvania no fault divorce process and also avoids the use of third party data entry, thus helping protect your personal information and privacy.

Online Divorce FAQ: Pennsylvania

Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming. Like starting almost any other legal proceeding, it takes finding the right forms, filling out the forms properly, and understanding the court’s requirements for the next steps you’ll need to take.

Traditionally, most people have hired a lawyer to take care of all the legal matters in their divorce. But more and more couples are turning to a much cheaper option that’s still easier than figuring out everything on their own: filing for divorce online.

If you want to know more, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about online divorce in Pennsylvania.

How Does Online Divorce Work in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™ takes care of the divorce paperwork for you. Once you sign up for the service, you’ll answer some questions about your situation. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™ will fill out the forms the state requires to start the divorce process, along with instructions for adding any further information that’s needed. You’ll be able to print out the forms yourself immediately or, if you prefer, get hard copies by mail.

UPDATE: 3StepDivorce™ for Pennsylvania isn’t available right now, while we update our forms and services for Pennsylvania. Check back soon at 3StepDivorce.com for current availability. In the meantime, you may be able to get divorce forms at the state courts’ divorce website, which includes both statewide and county-specific forms. The information below can answer your questions about getting an uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania.

Can I File for Divorce in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania has two basic requirements to file for divorce in the state: a residency requirement, and a legally recognized reason for ending your marriage.

What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Pennsylvania?

You may file for divorce in Pennsylvania as long as either you or your spouse has been a resident in the state for the six-month period just before the filing date. (23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3104(b) (2022).)

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania law allows both “fault” and “no-fault” grounds (legal reasons) for divorce. When you file for a no-fault divorce, you don’t have to prove that your spouse was at fault for ending the marriage. There are two different no-fault grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania:

  • Marriage breakdown with separation. To get a divorce based on this ground, you must file an affidavit with your divorce papers stating that your marriage is “irretrievably broken” (meaning there’s no reasonable prospect of getting back together) and that you have lived separate and apart from your spouse for at least a year. If your spouse denies either of those claims, a judge will have to hold a hearing and decide whether your claims are true.

  • Mutual consent. You can get a no-fault divorce based on the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage—without a minimum separation period—if both your and your spouse file affidavits consenting to the divorce.

A fault divorce is based on a claim that your marriage is ending because your spouse engaged in a certain kind of misconduct (such as adultery, cruelty, or desertion) or due to your spouse’s serious mental disorder. (23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3301 (2022).)

Fault-based divorces are usually more expensive and lengthy, because the spouse accused of misconduct is sure to fight the allegations. And of course, a no-fault divorce based on separation means waiting at least a year before you can start the divorce proceedings. That’s why most Pennsylvania couples who agree that it’s time to end their marriage choose a divorce by mutual consent.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Pennsylvania?

Many Pennsylvania residents are finding that they can file for divorce and get through the process without the expense of hiring a lawyer if they’re filing for an uncontested divorce by mutual consent in the state. That means that, in addition to agreeing on the need for a divorce, they’ve also reached an agreement about all of the legal issues in their divorce, including:

If you still have disagreements with your spouse about these or any other issues involved in ending your marriage, you’ll have to file for a traditional, contested divorce. Because that will involve legal battles and presenting evidence and arguments at court hearings, it would be risky to pursue a contested divorce without a lawyer to navigate the process for you—especially if your spouse has an attorney.

Will I Be Able to Use Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?

Once 3StepDivorce™ is available in Pennsylvania, you will be able to use it as long as you have an uncontested divorce by mutual consent, and you meet the state’s residency requirement. You’ll need to have a written marital settlement agreement, signed by both you and your spouse, that covers all of the issues in your divorce. Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™ will guide you through the process of creating this agreement, based on your answers to the questionnaire.

Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™ can also help if you aren’t ready to file for divorce, but you want a separation agreement with your spouse. For instance, you might want to work out arrangements for support, custody of your children, who has to move out of the family home, and how to take care of the bills while you’re separated but still legally married.

What If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?

Just because you haven’t been able to agree with your spouse about everything in your divorce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming contested divorce. You could try divorce mediation. If you’re able to resolve your disagreements with the mediator’s help, you can then use Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™ to prepare the written settlement agreement, along with the other divorce paperwork.

Can I Get an Online Divorce in Pennsylvania If I Have Children?

Generally, you can use Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™ even when you have minor children with your spouse, as long as you agree on all of the issues related to your kids, including legal and physical custody, a parenting (visitation) schedule, child support, health and dental insurance, and tax deductions. Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™ will allow you to address these issues in your settlement agreement. We provide a standard parenting schedule, but you’ll have an option of customizing the schedule to meet your individual needs.

However, you won’t be able to address custody-related issues in your Pennsylvania divorce if the affected child or children don’t meet the “home state” requirement. Usually, that means the child must have lived in Pennsylvania with a parent (or a parent figure) during the entire six-month period before you file for divorce (or since birth if the child is younger than six months old). If you don’t meet the six-month rule, you should speak with an attorney to find out whether you might qualify for one of the complicated exceptions to this rule. (23 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 5402, 5421 (2022).)

How Will My Online Divorce in Pennsylvania Deal With Child Support?

In Pennsylvania, both parents have an obligation to support their children. And like all states, Pennsylvania has child support guidelines for calculating how much support the parents should pay, based largely on their incomes and custody arrangements.

3StepDivorce™ provides the Pennsylvania Child Support Guideline Worksheets, so you can easily calculate the state's guideline level of support. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but the judge will need to review and approve your agreement. Under Pennsylvania rules, any time the amount of child support departs from the guideline, the judge must find that applying the guideline would be “unjust or inappropriate” under the circumstances. (231 Pa. Code Rule 1910.16-1 (2022).)

In your settlement agreement, you and your spouse may include child support provisions that aren’t legally required, such as a parent’s contributions to private school tuition or the cost of a child’s college education. You may also agree on some specific questions like which parent will claim the children as dependents on tax returns.

Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?

After your divorce in Pennsylvania is final, you (or your spouse) may request a change in the amount of child support, but you’ll need to show that there has been a substantial change in your circumstances that would affect the amount of support under the guidelines. The judge will review your request based on the same legal requirements for an original child support order.

If you want to save the time and expense of a court battle over a request to modify child support, you and your spouse may agree to a modification on your own. As a general rule, you should submit your agreement along with a petition to modify support, so that the agreement will become part of an official court order.

You can submit an online request to change your support order with Pennsylvania’s Child Support Program, or you can contact the Domestic Relations Section in your county.

How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?

When you fill out your questionnaire for Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™, you’ll answer a series of questions about your separate and marital property and debts, including how you’ll divide your marital property and allocate responsibility for payment of the marital debts.

What About the Family Home?

If you own a home with your spouse, your agreement can spell out what will happen to it when you get divorced. Here again, the questionnaire will include a few questions about the property and how you’ve chosen to deal with it, such as:

  • selling the house and splitting the proceeds

  • transferring ownership to one spouse, with the other spouse receiving money or other assets in exchange for that spouse’s share, or

  • continuing to own the property together while allowing one spouse to stay in the house for a period of time (and, if so, how you’ll handle paying the mortgage and other ongoing costs).

What About Retirement Accounts?

In your Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™, you may also agree on whether and how you’ll divide any retirement accounts that you and your spouse have, including 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and defined-benefit pensions.

If you started contributing to the retirement plan before you were married, you’ll start by figuring out how much of its current value is marital property and how much is your separate property. There are experts and firms that will do this for you (for a fee, of course). The service is usually known as a pension appraisal or valuation. You’ll almost always need this kind of expert help when you’re dealing with a defined-benefit pension.

Once you know the marital value of your work-related retirement accounts, the easiest way to handle the division of the assets is not to split them but to transfer other assets as an offset. Here’s how that works: Say you have a 401(k) through your job, and the marital portion of the account is worth $100,000. If you and your spouse agree to divide that portion down the middle, and you have other marital assets to divide (such as a regular savings account), your spouse could receive an extra $50,000 from those assets while you keep the entire 401(k). That way, you don’t have to hire another expert to prepare the kind of special order that’s needed to tell the 401(k) administrator how to divide the account.

The rules are different for IRAs. You may simply agree to have your spouse’s share transferred to another IRA account in that spouse’s name. (You’ll have to submit a special form to the bank, along with a copy of your divorce decree.)

Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in Pennsylvania?

You and your spouse may waive any right to alimony in your Pennsylvania divorce, or you may agree on the specifics of alimony payments: who will pay, how much, and for how long. Your agreement may also state whether a court could modify alimony at any time in the future, and it could cover related issues like health insurance and life insurance.

How Do I File My Divorce Papers in Pennsylvania?

When you get your completed forms with Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™, your next step will be to file your divorce papers with the county Prothonotary office. Generally, you’ll file in the county where your spouse (the “defendant”) lives. But you may file in the county where you live if:

  • your spouse lives out of state

  • you and your spouse lived as a married couple in the county and you’ve continued to live there

  • it’s been more than six months since you and your spouse permanently separated

  • your spouse has agreed to having the divorce in your county.

(23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3104(e) (2022).)

How Much Is Pennsylvania’s Filing Fee for Divorce?

The court fees for filing divorce papers vary from county to county in Pennsylvania, typically ranging from $200 to $300. Check with the Prothonotary’s office in the county where you’ll be filing to find out how much the fee will be and the forms of payment they’ll accept.

What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?

You can request a fee waiver by filing a “Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis.” The court will let you know if you qualify based on the information you’ve provided about your income, assets, and debts.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Pennsylvania?

After you’ve filed for an uncontested divorce by mutual consent, Pennsylvania requires a 90-day waiting period before the judge may grant your final divorce. (23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3301(c) (2022).) In practice, your case will take a bit longer than that, because you must wait 90 days before you can file the documents needed to finalize your divorce. After that, a judge will need to review your paperwork before signing your final divorce decree.

How Can I Get More Help With Pennsylvania Online Divorce?

Pennsylvania 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited, live, person-to-person support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, call our Pennsylvania Divorce Online Help Center at (888) 665-6782 (toll free), Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm (Pacific Time).

Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and so cannot give out legal advice. If you have questions about Pennsylvania law or need legal advice, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

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