In addition to the psychological distress associated with the breakup, people going through a divorce also face various legal challenges, including lawyers and the judicial system. As a result, marriage termination can become an extremely nerve-wracking and time-consuming part of life.
However, if you manage to compromise on divorce-related issues with your partner to qualify for an uncontested divorce, you can significantly reduce the legal challenges of the split.
By applying for an uncontested divorce, you can end your marriage quietly and with dignity. So let’s take a closer look at the main things you should know before starting an amicable dissolution of marriage in Pennsylvania.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce can be described as a simplified marriage termination procedure, in which both parties agree on the major issues, such as child custody, spousal support, division of marital assets, etc. As a result, the couple has the opportunity to avoid lengthy court litigation, saving money and time.
So if you aim to keep your divorce proceedings as civil as possible, there is no better option than an uncontested divorce.
In Pennsylvania, uncontested divorce is often referred to as “mutual consent divorce.” To file for this type of dissolution, both spouses must agree to the marriage termination and sign papers stating that each is in agreement. Otherwise, you’ll have to apply for a contested divorce, which requires lawyers.
Pros and Cons of an Uncontested Divorce
There are several considerable advantages and disadvantages to mutual consent divorce that couples should consider before deciding whether this option is right for their case.
- It is less costly than a contested divorce.
By applying for an uncontested divorce, people are not required to hire an attorney to proceed with their case, making it more affordable. Despite costs charged for filing a petition, it can be less expensive compared to traditional marriage termination.
- It is way faster than the traditional procedure of ending the marriage.
Considering the lack of disputes between ex-spouses, a mutual consent divorce is much faster than a traditional one. On average, uncontested divorce does not take more than several weeks/months, whereas a contested marriage dissolution can last up to a few years.
At the same time, there is a disadvantage of this kind of dissolution that should also be taken into consideration. It is not suitable for every case. For example, it is not the best option for couples who have complex financial or emotional situations. Moreover, if spouses are hiding important information, the assets can’t be distributed fairly.
Uncontested Divorce Process in Pennsylvania
Before filing for divorce in Pennsylvania, it is essential to make sure that you meet the following requirements:
- your marriage is irretrievably broken
- both you and your spouse reached an agreement regarding the marriage termination
- both you and your spouse are willing to sign an affidavit
- either you or your partner must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before the divorce case was started
In addition, if you have shared children, you and your partner should resolve child custody and child support issues peacefully.
Step 1: Filling Out Appropriate Divorce Papers
Today, you can do it with or without a lawyer. However, hiring an attorney will cost you about $230-280 per hour in Pennsylvania. Alternatively, you can do it on your own or with the help of online divorce companies.
Cooperating with online providers is the most reliable and convenient way to prepare appropriate divorce forms in a matter of several business days. Typically, it’s a 2-step process: you fill out the divorce questionnaire, and the system generates your documents. Most importantly, your uncontested divorce paperwork will correspond to local laws and requirements.
Completing your application for divorce online eliminates the hassle and reduces stress, not to mention saves money and time. That is why online divorce companies are tremendously popular in the state and the whole country.
If you want to fill out marriage termination forms by yourself, be sure to check with your county court clerk for more information. The problem is, the required documents may vary depending on your circumstances and the county where you file. The samples of needed documents can be found through your county clerk of the court website.
However, people with no legal background can face some difficulties filling out divorce papers themselves. Moreover, if they select wrong or outdated forms, they will have to fill them out again, as the court clerk will reject the submission.
Step 2: Filing the Forms and Paying the Filing Fee
Make three copies of all documents before you head to the clerk’s office. The court will keep one copy, and you will receive the other two back.
When it comes to filing fees, it varies from county to county. On average, you’ll be charged around $300, although you can get them waived by filing a form called an In Forma Pauperis, demonstrating that your income is below a certain level.
Step 3: Serving the Spouse and Filing Proof of Service
After you’ve filed, you have 30 days to serve your spouse in Pennsylvania. However, if your partner lives outside this state, the time requirement is extended to 90 days. Presently, you can notify your spouse of your intent to end the marriage:
- By hiring a professional process server
- By mail
- By asking the sheriff
When your spouse signs the Acceptance of Service form and gives it back to you, make sure to file a copy of this document with the clerk, along with a Verification form.
Step 4: Finalizing Marriage Termination
If spouses have no issues to contest, after a 90-day waiting period, the court can issue a final decree stating that the marriage is legally ended.
The procedure of getting a divorce can be significantly simplified if you talk to your spouse and reach an agreement to be eligible to apply for an uncontested divorce. This type of divorce can be considered the cheapest and fastest way to end a marriage.
Moreover, it opens an opportunity to proceed without an attorney and complete divorce papers yourself, using the most suitable option for you.