- No hearings in court (no missed days of work);
- Divorced in a few months;
- In person or telephone appointments (your choice);
- Papers prepared by a Pennsylvania attorney;
- Instructions and guidance provided by a Pennsylvania attorney;
- Other representation options available;
- Anywhere in Pennsylvania.
What Does "Uncontested" Mean?
- No unresolved disputes over property or children
- Both agree to divorce (or have lived separate for 1 year)
- See below for more answers to common questions
Uncontested Divorces (Common Questions)
- What Is An Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce means both parties agree to the divorce and have no outstanding issues that require a Court to make a decision. If your divorce involves areas that might be disputed (e.g., custody of children, alimony payments, property distribution, debt distribution, insurance, retirement accounts, etc.) an uncontested divorce might not protect these important interests and you should speak with an attorney about protecting them (or risk losing the right to claim them in the divorce). However, if you are in agreement with your spouse about all issues, then, an uncontested “no-fault” divorce may be the most efficient and cost effective manner to end the marriage.
- What Is A No-Fault Divorce?
A no-fault divorce does not require any showing of wrongdoing by either party. Until 1980, marriages could only end in divorce by a showing of fault (e.g., cheating, imprisonment, cruelty, abandonment, etc.). The Pennsylvania Divorce Act of 1980 now allows either party to terminate the marriage quickly on the grounds that “the marriage is irretrievably broken” (i.e. it cannot be fixed). Fault based divorces are still available but are usually contested by the other spouse and therefore take longer to resolve.
- What Are The Types of Uncontested, No-Fault Divorces?
Pennsylvania offers two types of uncontested divorces: (1) a "mutual consent divorce" can be granted (without a hearing) ninety days after filing for divorce if both parties file an affidavit consenting to the divorce; or (2) the Courts may also grant a no-fault divorce where the parties have lived separate and apart for at least one year.
- What If Your Spouse Does Not Agree To Divorce?
If your spouse denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken or denies that you have lived separate and apart for two years, the judge may hold a hearing. If the judge decides that there is a possibility that you and your spouse can reconcile (get back together), the judge could continue the case for a period of up to 120 days. During this time, the judge will order you both to go to counseling. If the judge ultimately agrees that the marriage is irretrievably broken after that hearing, a divorce decree can be entered.
- What Is An Affidavit of Consent?
An uncontested divorce can be granted (without a hearing) ninety days after filing for divorce if both parties file an affidavit consenting to the divorce. Both parties must file the affidavit with the Court indicating that the marriage is irretrievably broken and ninety days have elapsed from the date of filing and service of the Complaint.
- What Is A Legal Separation?
Pennsylvania does not require a “legal separation” where the parties must obtain Court approval to be considered separated. All that is necessary is that the parties no longer live as husband and wife. Nor do separating spouses need to reside in different housing; spouses can be considered “separated” while still living in the same house. Spouses may enter into a voluntary private civil separation agreement to address any custody, property or alimony issues. Such an agreement is useful in pinpointing the date of separation and identifying the parties understandings about the distribution of property and custody; however, such an agreement is not at all required to be separate and apart.
- How Do You File For Divorce?
You must file a document in the County Court called a “Complaint.” If you retain our firm, a copy will be provided for you together with any of the other forms that will be needed. In general, the wording of a divorce complaint requires several things, including: 1) your name and address, 2) the name and address of your spouse, 3) a statement that you or your spouse have been residents of Pennsylvania for at least 6 months. It is also advisable to attach a copy of your marriage certificate.
- Where Do You File For Divorce?
To file for divorce, at least one spouse must have been a resident of Pennsylvania for at least 6 months before the filing of the Complaint. You may file the divorce in the county where the other spouse resides or in the county where the marriage was located (provided you have lived continuously in that county since the marriage). If your spouse resides outside of Pennsylvania, you may file it in the county where you now reside. If you retain our firm, you will be provided with instructions on where to file.
- What Does a Divorce Cost?
Each court imposes its own charges for divorce filings. These are separate from any attorney fees that our firm might charge. You can determine the court cost by looking online in the county where you intend to file or by calling the clerk of that Court (often called a Prothonotary). In Pennsylvania, the court costs can vary dramatically from county to county. Note, court costs are separate from the uncontested divorce rates charged by our firm.
- What if I Can’t Afford the Court Costs?
If you are truly unable to pay the Court filing costs you can make a request for those court costs to be waived by filing an IFP petition. IFP stands for “In Forma Pauperis” and to qualify, you must truthfully verify that you are unable to pay those costs. You must also attach certain financial information for the Court’s review. If the Court grants your petition, you need not pay the court filing fees.
- Crawford Law Fees: $325 (Self-Representation)
Our rates for uncontested divorces are structured to be affordable. We offer a limited representation attorney agreement for a flat fee of $325 where we provide: (1) a consultation with an attorney (in person or over the phone), (2) we also prepare all of the paperwork you will need to file and serve the uncontested divorce, and (3) we will give you a set of instructions to aide you in the steps you must take to file the divorce yourself (4) we are available by phone to answer some questions if you encounter difficulties. This is our most affordable package and it contemplates that you will represent yourself for the divorce.
- Crawford Law Fees: $750 (Attorney Representation)
As an alternative to self-representation, we can also represent you in the uncontested divorce proceedings. For $750 we provide in an uncontested divorce: (1) a consultation with an attorney (in person or over the phone), (2) we prepare all of the paperwork you will need to file for the uncontested divorce, (3) we will file all of the divorce papers for you and serve your spouse with all of his or her paperwork, and (4) we are available to answer your uncontested divorce questions throughout the entire proceedings. Please note, this form of representation also contemplates that no hearings will be necessary. Contested matters would require a separate fee and negotiation.
- Caution on Fees
Please note, the fees quoted above are for "uncontested" divorces rather than disputed divorces. If issues should arise that require additional filings or court appearances (e.g., custody of children, alimony payments, property distribution, debt distribution, insurance, retirement accounts, disagreement about the marriage being irretrievably broken, etc.) a different fee may be necessary to handle those aspects of the divorce. However, if you are in agreement with your spouse about all other issues, then, an uncontested “no-fault” divorce may be the most efficient and cost effective manner to end the marriage. The prices quoted above are valid for up to 90 days from receipt of this handout; after that 90 day period please contact us to reaffirm whether the price has changed or not.