At least one of the parties must now be, and have been a resident of Pennsylvania for at least six (6) months prior to filing. If both parties are in agreement and the divorce is by mutual consent, the parties must wait 90 days from service of the Complaint upon the other party. The parties sign a Consent and then the appropriate documents are forwarded to the Court. The time consumed in the mailings, service upon the other party and review by the Court usually adds another 30 days to the process.
If the parties have been separated for at least two (2) years, and the economic issues have been resolved, then a divorce can be obtained if only one of the parties wants a divorce. The issues of Divorce, Custody, and Support are all handled by the courts independently from each other.
If the parties are unable to agree on a settlement, the issue of a divorce and the distribution of the marital asset is handled by a Divorce Master. Appraisals are obtained for the various items of property and a formal hearing is scheduled before the Master, where testimony is taken from witnesses and various documents are introduced into evidence. After the Master issues a report, either party may appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas.
Child Support and Spousal Support are both handled by the Domestic Relations Office. The required forms are available at their office. A conference is then scheduled before a Hearing Officer to discuss earnings and expenses, and to determine the financial responsibilities of the parties.
Child Custody matters are initiated by the filing of a complaint with the court in the county where the child resides. After service of the complaint, a hearing before a Conciliator is scheduled. At the hearing potential periods and times of custody. The Conciliator makes a recommendation to the Court, and if the parties agree, it then will become an Order of the Court. Should the parties fail to agree, a hearing before the Court of Common Pleas is then scheduled.