Getting a divorce is hard enough without having to worry about the process, hiring a lawyer, and settling in court. If both you and your spouse agree to a divorce and neither one will fight it (which is considered an uncontested divorce), there is a way to do it on your own without all the legalities. Following the steps below, you and your spouse can quickly and easily be divorced in 90 days. However, this is usually considered best for those couples who do not have shared property, investments, or bank accounts and wish to come out of the relationship free and clear. If you think that you and your spouse can come to an agreement on items before the actual divorce and trust that both will be fair, then you can still do and uncontested divorce in 90 days.
Go to your local courthouse and find the Prothonotary office. Explain that you'd like to do an uncontested divorce and request the necessary paperwork (a petition for divorce). Understand that no one in the Prothonotary office is able to help you with the divorce petition so do not ask them to assist you in filling it out. You will have to read the instructions that come with the petition for divorce and do it yourself.
Read the divorce petition paperwork very carefully as there are steps you need to take in a certain sequence in order to file properly. When you have filled out the petition for divorce, return it to the Prothonotary office so that they may place it on file. You will have to pay a fee for filing with the courthouse ($85 in Pennsylvania) and each state's requirements are different so be sure to ask what they charge. You can write a check which is best for keeping a receipt of your payment and file date, although the courthouse will give you a receipt as well. The Prothonotary office will hold the copy for 90 days before officially filing you and your spouse as divorced.
In the meantime, you'll also need to send a copy of the divorce request to your spouse via certified mail. Simply copy the divorce request and go to your local post office to find out about sending the letter as certified. Your spouse will receive a copy of this letter in the mail in which he'll have to sign for to receive it. This is important. Even if you see your spouse on a daily basis, mailing out the divorce request by certified letter is a requirement and if it is not done, it can delay the divorce process or kick you out of the courthouse system. Your spouse MUST receive a certified copy of the request for divorce. The certified sticker where your spouse signs will get sent to the Prothonotary office and kept on file with your divorce decree. The courthouse must receive this signed piece of paper in order to continue with your divorce proceedings. This letter to your spouse also gives him the chance to contest the divorce at this point and if he does not do so in a certain number of days, the divorce request continues.
Now you wait 90 days from the day you filed your divorce request with the Prothonotary office. After 90 days is up, you'll take another letter (a final petition for divorce) to the courthouse stating that you and your spouse both still agree to the divorce. This letter will need signed by both you and your spouse in front of a notary, NOT before. It will come in your original packet that you got when you first requested the divorce at the Prothonotary office. When both parties have signed in front of a notary, you may take this letter to the courthouse and file it with the Prothonotary office, which will incur another fee ($60 in Pennsylvania) that differs by state. You will officially be divorced this day. You and your spouse will receive an official letter from the judge at the courthouse, which will be your divorce decree, stating that you are both legally divorced.
Tips & Warnings
- Get help from a friend or family member if possible when filling out the divorce petition if you are unsure about any details...it is always best to use a lawyer if your afraid the uncontested divorce will not turn out the way you plan.
- Do not attempt to do a divorce yourself if there are unresolved issues such as child support, child custody, alimony, shared investments or property, or any other financial and family burdens that have not been settled.
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