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I have been separated for 3 1/2 years and filed for divorce over 2 years ago. How can I finalize the divorce myself?

Pennsylvania |

I filed civil action in my local court of common pleas in July 2007 for divorce by an attorney. The divorce is not completed due to nonresponse from my husband. The reason for no response was due to me wanting part of a marital asset which was not agreed to by my spouse. I no longer want anything more than to complete the divorce. I can no longer afford an attorney and need to finish it myself. The prothonotaies office states that consent is required. What paperwork do I need to create and file with the court to continue the process?

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Attorney answers 3


Generally, if you served and filed a Petitoin for divorce and there has been no answer, you may file a Notice of Default and seek to proceed to court by default, that means your spouse would not be able to respond in court to your requests and a court may determine what is equitable based on those requests. Look for forms in your state related to divorce default.


In Pennsylvania, if one party does not consent to divorce, no divorce can be obtained for 2 years unless a party has alleged fault grounds (such as adultery, desertion, personal indignities, cruel and barbarous treatment). In your case, since you have filed for divorce over 2 years ago, the fault/no fault issues are inapplicable. Accordingly, you can seek a divorce under no fault grounds (and not have to wait) by filing under Section 3301(d).


You need to first make sure your original complaint raised counts for a 3301(d) or two year separation. If not, you need to amend the complaint to include this count. Most lawyers include this as a matter of course even if the two years have not passed. Next, you need to prepare and sign the 3301(d) alleging you separated two years or more ago and serve that with a counteraffidavit on your spouse. You then need a stipulation to withdraw your equitable distribution count and then a proposed decree and praecipe package which you will file with the court after giving your spouse twenty days written notice on the forms required by court.