When people considering a low-cost, simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce contact me, I immediately provide them with my free information. I have been doing this since 1980 when Pennsylvania’s new no-fault divorce law went into effect in June of that year. Over the years, more and more questions became more and more frequent. As that happened, I modified my free information to include the new questions. One of those questions (which was among the first) was if I needed the original or a certified copy of the marriage license or certificate for a Pennsylvania divorce. The answer is a resounding NO! (And, as an interesting aside, frequent questions leveled out about twenty years ago and that was the last time I had to make any serious change to my free information to cover new questions.)
Pennsylvania has 67 counties and while each of them conducts the business of the Court in accordance with the state’s Rules of Procedure, because Pennsylvania is what is referred to as a “common law” jurisdiction, each of our counties has its own county Rules of Procedure as well. Those rules typically add something to the state rules, such as, for example, requiring certain documents to be notarized whereas the state rules have no such requirement for that particular document.
About four or five counties in Pennsylvania still cling to an ancient concept of requiring folks to prove that they are married before a divorce action can be filed. Apparently, one hundred fifty or maybe even two hundred years ago, there were persons in relationships who were not married but, when they broke up, at least one of them wanted to make it “official” by filing a divorce action. Yes, that does sound somewhat silly and is wholly unnecessary in today’s world, but you may be surprised how different things were back then. For example, there were so few divorces back in the day that some courts did not even have a docket book in which to enter the filing of divorces. I know as a fact that in one rural county, divorce actions were entered into the court’s docket book labeled “Lunatics and Drunkards”! It seems that there were far more problems in the local courts with those folks than with those who merely wanted to be divorced.
You may know that the county in which you reside requires proof of marriage to file a divorce action there or you may be wondering if that is the case. For my clients, it does not matter in which Pennsylvania county they live (although it is a fact that at least one of the two parties must reside somewhere in the state of Pennsylvania) because I do not file my clients divorces in a county which requires an original or certified copy of a marriage license or certificate. In a low-cost, simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce action, it is entirely lawful to use any of our sixty-seven counties, so avoiding ones with that ancient and somewhat silly requirement is easy. By the way, each Pennsylvania county also has the ability to charge different amounts just to file a divorce action, some $400.00 or more. Accordingly, using one with the lowest possible fees keeps my total charges as low as possible. Moreover, my clients need not be concerned with traveling to the court because no appearance in court is ever required. Finally, because I have developed a system (copied by others in recent times) that eliminates the need to come into my office, no one travels further than to their mailbox.
The process, accordingly, is very simple and as stress-free as possible. The difficult part is the decision to begin. Keep in mind that while a divorce does end a marriage, it is, perhaps more importantly, the beginning of a new life for both parties. That is virtually always a very good thing indeed.