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Quick Answer:

What happens if I ignore a Pennsylvania divorce complaint?

If your spouse filed a low-cost, simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce, then you are on the same page and you simply need to follow the instructions you receive. But if you receive divorce papers and you and your spouse are not in agreement, heed the warning on those papers and get a lawyer immediately.

I don’t know who started it, but it’s a myth that an ostrich hides its head in the sand when it sees danger approaching. Oh, a few may have tried it early on, but when others saw it turn into a meal for a hungry predator, they likely figured out that it did not work. Similarly, if one receives a legal document, no matter how it may it may have been delivered, ignoring it is likely to be good for the other party and bad for you. Depending upon the circumstances, receiving a divorce complaint without reacting to it may likewise be good, bad or indifferent.

 If your spouse filed a low-cost, simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce (the only kind I handle), you should be expecting to receive documents (from her or me) and should read them and any letter or instructions that came with them. It would be a divorce wherein neither of you wanted anything from one another and it would mean your spouse is paying for it and you are going to end up with a free divorce. Should you choose to ignore that type of divorce and not sign where needed, it will never be granted, no matter how long you have been separated. Low-cost, uncontested Pennsylvania divorces always require that both parties are and remain fully available and cooperative or they just do not work.

If your spouse files the divorce through a typical, high-priced local law firm and you ignore what you are sent (or served), it is possible that “you may lose money or property or other rights important to you.” I put that phrase in quotes because it is part of an actual prominently printed warning required on your copy of the legal action and it is not an idle threat. It really could happen. The warning further admonishes you to immediately see a lawyer… a much better action than joining the ostrich with its head in the sand.