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With so many things being done online virtually, it is quite natural to wonder if a Pennsylvania divorce can be done online. In Pennsylvania, legal actions (lawsuits, if you will) are typically commenced by filing a document called a Complaint. “Complaint” is an old legal term still very much in use in our legal system, even in no-fault divorce actions wherein, because there are no accusations of bad conduct, no one is actually “complaining” in the filed court documents.

Our Rules Of Court require that Complaints be “verified” by the party bringing the legal action. That’s the plaintiff, not the plaintiff’s lawyer. Verification may only be an original signature, not a copy of a signature. The document itself may have been run off on a copier making it a copy, but the signature on it must be original. The lawyer’s signature must likewise be original.

It is not possible to sign a document originally online. You could receive the document online, but then your signature must be original. That means the document cannot be filed in court via email, FAX, or any other electronic or virtual means. Hand delivery or US Postal Service mail (or any other service which would deliver the document in its original form) is required. This applies to all of the verified and sworn documents filed in a divorce or any other state (or county) court action.

This use of originally signed, verified and sworn documents is very important. Even with it in place, some litigants have resorted to forgeries – even notarized ones – to complete a divorce action without the defendant’s spouse’s knowledge, approval, or participation. The court and the attorneys (who are actually officers of the court) must take every precaution reasonably available to make sure each and every filed document is correct and originally verified and sworn.

As can be seen from the foregoing, a Pennsylvania divorce cannot be done online or virtually due to the court’s and the law’s requirement of original signatures on the documents filed in court in the action.