Do your own divorce
Pennsylvania - Divorce Requirements
The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of Pennsylvania divorce.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

Residency Requirements No spouse is entitled to commence an action for divorce or annulment under this part unless at least one of the parties has been a bona fide resident in this Commonwealth for at least six months immediately previous to the commencement of the action. Both parties shall be competent witnesses to prove their respective residence, and proof of actual residence within this Commonwealth for six months shall create a presumption of domicile within this Commonwealth.
Where to File A proceeding for divorce or annulment may be brought in the county:
  • Where the defendant resides
  • If the defendant resides outside of this Commonwealth, where the plaintiff resides
  • Of matrimonial domicile, if the plaintiff has continuously resided in the county
  • Prior to six months after the date of final separation and with agreement of the defendant, where the plaintiff resides or, if neither party continues to reside in the county of matrimonial domicile, where either party resides
  • After six months after the date of final separation, where either party resides
Grounds for Divorce The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has:
  • Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years
  • Committed adultery
  • By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse
  • Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting
  • Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime
  • Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome
  • Institutionalization.--The court may grant a divorce from a spouse upon the ground that insanity or serious mental disorder has resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of an action under this part and where there is no reasonable prospect that the spouse will be discharged from inpatient care during the 18 months subsequent to the commencement of the action. A presumption that no prospect of discharge exists shall be established by a certificate of the superintendent of the institution to that effect and which includes a supporting statement of a treating physician
  • Mutual consent.--The court may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action under this part and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce
Voluntary or required mediation Yes
Voluntary or recommended CounselingYes
Property Distribution In an action for divorce or annulment, the court shall, upon request of either party, equitably divide, distribute or assign, in kind or otherwise, the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct in such proportions and in such manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors, including:
  • The length of the marriage
  • Any prior marriage of either party
  • The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party
  • The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
  • The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
  • The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker
  • The value of the property set apart to each party.
  • The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
  • The economic circumstances of each party, including Federal, State and local tax ramifications, at the time the division of property is to become effective
  • Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children
Child Custody In making an order for custody, partial custody or visitation to either parent, the court shall consider, among other factors, which parent is more likely to encourage, permit and allow frequent and continuing contact and physical access between the noncustodial parent and the child. In addition, the court shall consider each parent and adult household member's present and past violent or abusive conduct which may include, but is not limited to, abusive conduct as defined under the act of October 7, 1976 (P.L.1090, No.218), known as the Protection From Abuse Act.

An order for shared custody may be awarded by the court when it is in the best interest of the child:
  • Upon application of one or both parents
  • When the parties have agreed to an award of shared custody
  • In the discretion of the court
Child Support Parents are liable for the support of their children who are unemancipated and 18 years of age or younger. Parents may be liable for the support of their children who are 18 years of age or older.

Child support shall be awarded pursuant to a Statewide guideline as established by general rule by the Supreme Court, so that persons similarly situated shall be treated similarly. The guideline shall be based upon the reasonable needs of the child seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support. In determining the reasonable needs of the child seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support, the guideline shall place primary emphasis on the net incomes and earning capacities of the parties, with allowable deviations for unusual needs, extraordinary expenses and other factors, such as the parties' assets, as warrant special attention. The guideline so developed shall be reviewed at least once every four years.

Rebuttable presumption.--There shall be a rebuttable presumption, in any judicial or expedited process, that the amount of the award which would result from the application of such guideline is the correct amount of support to be awarded. A written finding or specific finding on the record that the application of the guideline would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case shall be sufficient to rebut the presumption in that case, provided that the finding is based upon criteria established by the Supreme Court by general rule within one year of the effective date of this act.

Spousal Support Spousal support shall be awarded pursuant to a Statewide guideline as established by general rule by the Supreme Court, so that persons similarly situated shall be treated similarly. The guideline shall be based upon the reasonable needs of the spouse seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support. In determining the reasonable needs of the cspouse seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support, the guideline shall place primary emphasis on the net incomes and earning capacities of the parties, with allowable deviations for unusual needs, extraordinary expenses and other factors, such as the parties' assets, as warrant special attention. The guideline so developed shall be reviewed at least once every four years. Rebuttable presumption.--There shall be a rebuttable presumption, in any judicial or expedited process, that the amount of the award which would result from the application of such guideline is the correct amount of support to be awarded. A written finding or specific finding on the record that the application of the guideline would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case shall be sufficient to rebut the presumption in that case, provided that the finding is based upon criteria established by the Supreme Court by general rule within one year of the effective date of this act.