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Marriage and Divorce Basics in Pennsylvania

Marriage
Where can I find Pennsylvania laws about marriage?
You can locate Pennsylvania laws relating to marriage in Title 23 of the Pennsylvania statutes; also know as Purdon’s Consolidated Statutes Annotated.

MarriageHow old do I have to be to legally marry?
You can legally marry in Pennsylvania without parental/legal guardian consent at 18 years of age.

Do I need to take a blood test before I get married?
No. A blood test is not required. A marriage license is required, as is a three-day waiting period.

Do I have to be a resident to get married in Pennsylvania?
No. The cost of a marriage license for Pennsylvania residents is about $40 per couple. Photo ID is required when applying for the license.

How long does the marriage license last?
The marriage must be solemnized within 60 days of application.

Divorce
Where can I find forms for an uncontested divorce?
The Office of the Prothonotary in the Lycoming County Courthouse has divorce form packets with the commonly required forms included, such as the Summons and Complaint, Proof of Service, Complaint for Divorce, and Judgment of Divorce. Divorce forms are filed at the Lycoming County Courthouse, 48 W. Third Street in Williamsport.

Must there be grounds for a divorce?
No. 23 PaCSA §3301 provides the following grounds for divorce:

Fault
:
Adultery,
Bigamy,
Condition of spouse rendered intolerable and life burdensome
Cruel and barbarous treatment, endangering the life or health of the spouse;
Institutionalization
Sentenced to imprisonment of two or more years upon conviction

Mutual Consent
Irretrievable breakdown: as defined in §3103, “estrangement due to marital difficulties with no reasonable prospect for reconciliation.”
The complaint must list a reason, usually irretrievable breakdown or irreconcilable differences.

How long does the divorce process take?
An uncontested divorce without children will take a minimum of 60 days to complete. The minimum time for a divorce with children is 180 days. Under special circumstances, you can petition the court to shorten those time periods.

What if my spouse wants to contest the divorce?
A contested divorce may require the services of an attorney. For a list of Family Law attorneys in Lycoming County, there is a referral service available through the Lycoming Law Association. If you and your spouse do not agree on child custody, parenting time, support, or property division, Family Court-approved mediators are available to help resolve matters.

How long do I have to live in Pennsylvania before I can file for divorce?
180 days (23 PaCSA §3104). Also, you must reside in the county that you file in for 10 days.

What if I cannot locate my spouse’s whereabouts?
After filing for divorce in circuit court, if a person cannot serve divorce papers on his/her spouse, they can file a motion and verification for alternate service (form XXXX) with the court. If the judge agrees to alternate service, a plaintiff may post the notice in a newspaper or a public area.

What is legal separation?
Pennsylvania does not recognize legal separation. Instead, the court action is called Separate Maintenance and is generally filed with the same forms used for divorce proceedings.

What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?
Divorce ends a valid marriage and annulment voids a marriage considered invalid because of defects surrounding its legality. There are two kinds of annulment, Legal and Religious. A religious annulment is the voiding of a marriage from the perspective of a religious organization and has no legal foundation or effect on a person’s rights. A legal annulment is a legal declaration that no marriage ever existed because of factors or circumstances considered to have invalidated the marriage. Marriages where bigamy, incest, underage persons, or mental incompetence are involved may be legally annulled by courts of law.
Source: 23 PS §101
23 PS §1101 et seq

NOTE: The above information is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice or representation. Consult an attorney if you have questions about how this information relates to your specific situation or circumstance.

 
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