How To Get Divorced

The following outline summarizes Pennsylvania divorce procedure.  It is intended to refresh your memory and help you keep track of what we will be doing.  It is not intended to substitute for specific advice and any subject.

Outline

Introduction

  • Differentiate divorce, equitable distribution, special relief, alimony, alimony pendente lite, support and custody.  This outline will cover divorce, equitable distribution, special relief and alimony.

Grounds for Divorce

  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. 3301(a) – fault
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. 3301(c) – mutual consent – no-fault
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. 3301(d) – one year separation – no-fault

Basic Requirements

  • Jurisdiction
  • Sui juris
  • No other divorce actions pending
  • Filing fee
  • Complaint
  • Marriage certificate
  • Service

The Complaint

  • Caption and docket number
  • Notice to Defend
  • Counseling Notice
  • Preliminary averments
  • Counts (grounds, equitable distribution, alimony and special relief)
  • Verification
  • Attachment

Service

  •  Personal, by whom, Affidavit of Service
  • Certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery, inspect and save green card
  • Acceptance of Service
  • Answer and Counterclaim
  •  When necessary

Equitable Distribution

  • Two methods of distribution: by agreement (Property/Marital Settlement Agreement or hearing)
  • The marital estate defined
  • Exclusions from the marital estate
  • Requirement of full disclosure
  • Valuation of items in estate
  • Equitable does not necessarily mean equal
  • Factors influencing distribution proportion
  • Debt: the relationship of creditors to the parties and the parties to each other
  • Dependency exemptions
  • Finality of Agreement
  • Signature requirements

Alimony

  • Determined as part of equitable distribution
  • Factors influencing alimony
  • Amount
  • Duration
  • Defenses
  • Payment options
  • Tax consequences

Special Relief

  • Equitable powers of the Court
  • No adequate remedy at law
  • Irreparable harm
  • Examples: preserve assets, exclusive possession of home, maintain insurance beneficiaries

Failure to Agree on Division of Assets and Debts

  • Grounds Order
  • Preconference Memorandum
  • Inventory and Appraisement
  • Pay stubs and taxes

Finalizing the Divorce

  • Affidavits of Consent (for mutual consent divorces)
  • Signed no less than 90 days from date of service of the Complaint
  • Filed within 30 days of signing OR
  • Affidavit Under Section 3301(d) of the Divorce Code (for 2 year separation divorces)
  • Signed and filed any time after filing of the Complaint
  • Twenty Day Waiver (optional)
  • Prepare Praecipe To Transmit Package:
  • Form Decree (or Grounds Order if applicable)
  • Praecipe to Transmit
  • Proof of Service
  • Affidavit of Signature
  • Consents
  • Twenty Day Waivers
  • Notice of Intent to Request Entry of Divorce Decree (of Grounds Order)
  • Certification of Notice
  • Counter Affidavit
  • Certification of Counter Affidavit
  • Affidavit of NonMilitary Service
  • Property Settlement Agreement
  • Vital Statistics Form
  • Send other party the original Notice of Intent and Counter Affidavit and a copy of the Praecipe package
  • Send original Praecipe package to Court

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