How Fast Can One Get a Divorce in Pennsylvania?
Posted in Divorce on November 17, 2017
“How fast can I get my divorce?” That’s a question almost every client asks. The answer depends on several things. First, obviously, is how soon you hire your lawyer to start the process. Mike Davis at Davis Divorce Law is ready to start your divorce immediately.
Second, how busy is your lawyer? Davis Divorce Law, in addition to Mr. Davis, employs a fully trained staff of three with decades of experience, so we are always on top of each case. We also offer low cost options to speed up your entire divorce as well as each step within the divorce.
Third, how quickly will you and your spouse act on the paperwork you are provided? Every day that passes after a document is received and you or your spouse do not act on it, a day is added a day to your case. Your acting promptly keeps your case moving.
Fourth, how busy is the Court and the Judge? Davis Divorce Law files divorces where additional staff has been added to make sure the cases move as quickly – and as inexpensively – as possible.
Fifth, how long has it been since you and your spouse lived under the same roof? If it has been less than than two years (or less than one if your separation began after December 4, 2016), Pennsylvania law requires that after your divorce is filed in Court AND your spouse is legally notified of the filing, there must be a 90 day waiting period (note that it is not necessarily a separation period) until the divorce can proceed further.
After the 90 days – and not even one day sooner – you and your spouse must sign a Court-approved document stating that you both consent (agree) to the divorce. The lawyer then prepares additional documents and files them in Court. In due course, the Judge signs the final decree, sends it to the Prothonotary (our civil clerk of courts) who in turn mails out the decrees to each party’s lawyer (or directly to the party if a party has no lawyer and in simple, uncontested, no-fault cases, only one party needs a lawyer).
For couples who have been separated long enough not to be required to wait the 90 days, how long the process takes from the point of the original Court filing and notifying the other party depends on how the lawyer handles your case. Most lawyers follow the standard process. That means sending your spouse a notice that says, in a nutshell, that the divorce has been filed and your spouse has been notified, and another document your spouse can use to contest the divorce. Those are sent by ordinary mail and that mailing begins a twenty day wait to see if a contest is filed. Assuming the divorce is the typical uncontested case and no contest is filed, the lawyer may then prepare the additional final documents, file them and thereby set in motion the process of the divorce being granted and the final decrees sent out.
However, as an experienced (43 years!) lawyer, Mr Davis does not wait the twenty days or mail those two documents but instead has your spouse sign a document very soon after the case is filed stating that your spouse received notification, does not want to wait the twenty days and agrees to being divorced without further notice or delay. Pennsylvania’s Rules of Court and Procedure clearly allowed this little known, much quicker process.
So, after all is said and done, a divorce with the 90 day waiting period may take anywhere from three and a half months to six or even longer in cases where the couple chooses to delay the process for reasons of their own. Divorces without the 90 day waiting period, depending on the skill of the lawyer, prompt action by the parties, the type of process the client chooses, the options selected and a judge who, hopefully, will not be terribly busy with other matters, could be final in two to three months or even just a few weeks.