Over the decades, many people have contacted me from outside of Pennsylvania. They had read on my website that they could get a low-cost, simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce if their spouses were in Pennsylvania. The problem was that they “knew” that their spouses were in Pennsylvania, but just did not know exactly where in Pennsylvania. That is not sufficient information to allow a non-resident to use Pennsylvania’s divorce courts. Think about it. Can you really expect your lawyer to say to the Court, “Yes, Your Honor, my client is not a Pennsylvania resident but my client assures me that the defendant is somewhere here”? Close, but no cigar. Well, actually, not even close. Unless one party or the other can be sworn to be in Pennsylvania AND to have been here for every day of the past six months, a Pennsylvania court cannot accept the case. And if the non-resident client does not even know the defendant’s address, how can the client swear to the defendant’s residency in Pennsylvania? Just saying, “But I am SURE the defendant is somewhere in Pennsylvania!” will never be enough.
Also, for a low-cost divorce, the signature of BOTH parties is an absolute requirement no matter how long you may be separated. Yes, our law states that after over one year of separation, you can get your divorce with or without your spouse’s signature. What our law does not tell you is that type of divorce is not only not cheap, it is VERY expensive. If you can afford only a low-cost divorce, you will need your spouse’s signature and that’s even if YOU are a Pennsylvania resident.
It is possible for the situation to be one involving a non-resident client who has a cooperative defendant spouse who simply refuses to divulge the defendant’s actual Pennsylvania address. Even then, it will not work. Remember, the defendant’s Pennsylvania residence address must be put in the divorce paperwork and sworn to. In such a case, the defendant’s Pennsylvania spouse may continue to “hide” from the non-resident plaintiff but will be doing so as a married person. True, there are cases wherein a spouse, fearful of abuse, would rather remain in hiding and, therefore, remain married. Pick your poison, as they say.