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How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in PA?
When couples file for divorce, they typically want it over as soon as possible to start moving on with their life. This often leads to someone wondering, “How long does it take to get a divorce in PA?” The answer is a little complicated.
Pennsylvania Divorce Timeline
The divorce procedure can last shorter or longer depending on if each party agrees to the divorce. When both parties agree to every aspect of the divorce, it is a consent divorce, and it will be a quicker process. If one party does not agree to the divorce or certain aspects of the divorce, it is a non-consent divorce. This process takes considerably longer.
If Both Parties Agree
If both parties agree to the divorce, they will follow the steps to get a 3301(c) consent divorce. The first step is to file and serve a divorce complaint. Once the divorce papers are served, they will need to way 90 days before they can proceed. This is a “cool off” period for the couple to ensure they genuinely want to get divorced.
After this period is up, both parties can file an Affidavit of Consents. It must be filed within 30 days after it is signed and dated. If the parties fail to do this, they will have to re-sign and re-file it, which could prolong the time it takes to finalize the divorce.
As long as neither party has any issues with the terms of their divorce, they should be able to file the required forms and paperwork. If they are proactive in getting the paperwork filed and sent, the court will be able to grant the divorce.
If the Parties Do Not Agree
To get divorced in Pennsylvania, only one party needs to consent to the divorce. In this case, the spouse will proceed with a 3301(d) non-consent divorce. This kind of divorce will take longer before it can be finalized.
A non-consent divorce starts with one party filing and serving a notice of dissolution to the other party. However, before the divorce can proceed, the parties must be separated for the appropriate time of separation. If the period of separation began on or after December 5, 2016, spouses would need to be living separate and apart for one year before they can file their divorce. If the period of separation were before December 5, 2016, the couple would need to be separated for two years before they can file for divorce.
After the applicable separation time has passed, either party can sign and file an Affidavit Under Section 3301(d) of the Divorce Code. This states that they have been separated for the applicable time period. Then a notice of the divorce will need to be filed and served to the other party. In this time, the other spouse can oppose the divorce or raise claims if they want to. If they don’t oppose the divorce or have any requests to make, the divorce will be granted 20 days after the notice.
How Long Does It Take To Be Served With Divorce Papers?
After filing for divorce, the petitioning spouse is responsible for serving a copy of the Summons, the Complaint, and the Notice of Initial Hearing, not the court. Therefore, the amount of time it takes to be served depends on the person doing the serving and the method of serving.
There are three ways the papers can be served:
- Hand-delivery (by someone older than 18, but not the petitioning spouse); or
- Certified mail, return receipt; or
- Regular mail with defendant’s written acknowledgement.
Regardless of the chosen method, the papers must be served directly to the intended party; they cannot be accepted by the defendant’s relative or friend.
How Long Do You Have to Be Separated in PA to Get a Divorce?
The date of separation is mainly important in non-consent divorces, since two years must pass before one spouse can obtain a no-fault divorce without the consent of the other spouse.
An Experienced Divorce Lawyer Can Help
It’s crucial that all the paperwork you file is filled out correctly. If there are mistakes, the court will not grant the final divorce decree until the paperwork is corrected. Pennsylvania’s divorce forms can be confusing. It is why it is in your best interest to hire a divorce lawyer to ensure all the procedures and forms are correct. By doing so, you will get through the divorce process as quickly as possible, while protecting your rights.