Distance is the only variable that can affect the timeline of a low-cost, simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce when one or both parties is/are in full-time United States military service. Why? Because once the file is open and the case begins, all documents must be originally signed – NO electronic signatures in a Pennsylvania divorce action – and that means using the US Mail or another carrier of original paper documents and our service personnel may be in any part of the world. That, in turn, can mean lengthy periods between the steps in the process. Other than that, the process is identical as for a couple with neither party in the service.
What is crucial is that at least one party must be physically in Pennsylvania for every day of at least the six months prior to filing in Court OR at least one of the two parties must have Pennsylvania as his/her official home of record in the military’s record.
A law used to come into play in divorces when the defendant spouse was in the full time military. Formerly known as the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, it is now known – in these times of political correctness – as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), its purpose is to protect service personnel from lawsuits that being in the service would make responding thereto difficult or impossible. It could result in the Court requiring the plaintiff who is suing the service member – and a divorce IS a lawsuit – to find a lawyer to represent the service member in the action… and possibly even pay that lawyer. BUT, none of that comes into play or matters at all in a low-cost, simple, uncontested, Pennsylvania no-fault divorce. Why? Because in such a case, the defendant service member must sign his/her consent to the divorce on the original document approved by our Rules of Procedure. This means that the service member necessarily waives the protections afforded by the SCRA. If you want a divorce and your spouse is in the full time military and is NOT cooperative, your divorce will cost thousands and take a very long time, no matter how long you may have been separated.