Before filing for divorce, it must be proven at least one spouse is a resident of the state. Here’s what you need to know about divorce residency requirements in Pennsylvania.
Residency can be proven when a spouse has resided in Pennsylvania for at least six months. To be considered an official resident, or a bona fide resident, a person must maintain physical residence in a state and have the intention to maintain their residency indefinitely. If only one spouse lives in Pennsylvania, a divorce decree can still be issued to the spouse who lives out of state. A divorce can proceed even if the defendant’s spouse cannot be given notice. However, the ability to notify and communicate with the defendant’s spouse often referred to as personal jurisdiction, is necessary for distributing marital assets.
Proof of Residency
Residency may be substantiated by a sworn complaint. The testimony is all that most courts require to verify residency. But cases have been dismissed and even overturned because of improper proof of residency.
Those looking to establish residency may not maintain a residence in another state because it could imply that they did not intend to remain in the state where the filing took place. Establishing residency may be done through the following:
- Registering to vote
- Getting a driver’s license
- Getting a job
- Opening charge accounts
- Registering a car
- Taking out a library card
Related: Pennsylvania Divorce FAQs
Failure to Meet Pennsylvania Divorce Residency Requirements
For those unable to meet at least one of the Pennsylvania residency requirements, the following options remain:
- Establish residency in Pennsylvania for the period time set forth above
- Have spouses do the filing if they meet the Pennsylvania residency requirements.
- Choose another state in which spouses meet the requirements
Pennsylvania Divorce Residency Requirements FAQs
What are the steps of Pennsylvania divorce?
- Meeting residency requirements
- Meet the grounds to end a Pensyllvannian marriage
- File a petition for divorce along with other applicable divorce papers with a local county clerk’s office court
- Spouses in disagreement will have the opportunity to file papers contesting the divorce which will catalyze a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. When spouses do not disagree with anything, they sign the papers and send them back to the filer and/or the court in an uncontested divorce. In the case that an extended amount of time passes and a spouse has yet to sign the papers or file any papers of their own, they may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway.
- If there is a property that needs to be divided or financial support is requested, filers will likely participate in an out-of-court settlement or a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of the divorce. The judge will take into account several factors that include but are not limited to the following:
- The net income and earning potential of each spouse
- Each spouse’s sources of income, including retirement and medical benefits
- Whether either spouse is already paying child or spousal support from a previous marriage
- The labeling of all assets as either joint or individual
6. Judges decide on the case and finalize the divorce.
7. After the submission of this document, copies should be sent to the spouse, and either both spouses can create a divorce agreement outside of court, or a judge can issue a court order.
How is marital property divided in a Pennsylvania divorce?
Pennsylvania divides marital property under equitable distribution as opposed to community property states which attempt a 50-50 distribution. Equitable distribution states divide property under the circumstances of each case based on a determination of what is fair.