The Pennsylvania Family Law requires you to reside in a state for at least six months in order to file for divorce. If you do not meet the Pennsylvania residency requirements, the court cannot have jurisdiction over your case and cannot make any judgment.
There are many specific conditions that couples have to meet before they can end their marriage, and meeting divorce residency requirements is one of them. In most parts of the US, it is impossible to move to another state and immediately file.
The Residency Requirement for Filing a Pennsylvania Divorce
Pennsylvania residency laws are regulated under § 3104 of Pennsylvania General Assembly Title 23. In order to file in PA, either spouse must live in the state for at least 6 months before the process is initiated.
Can I File for Divorce in a Different County Than I Live in?
The Petitioner, who is the spouse starting the divorce process, must file the papers in the court of the county where they or the other spouse, who is a Defendant, reside.
Alternatively, the Petitioner may file in:
- The county where they reside if their spouse is not a state resident;
- In a county where neither of spouses live, but where both agree to file.
Previously, there was a law requiring a Petitioner to file in the county where the Defendant lives. However, it was abolished and is not in use at the moment.
What Do I Do if I or My Spouse Don’t Meet the Divorce Residency Requirements?
If you cannot prove your residency to the court, your case will be dismissed. Without resident jurisdiction in PA, the local court cannot legally make decisions in your case.
According to the state laws, you or your spouse (not necessarily both) have to meet a 6-month residency requirement to end your marriage in Pennsylvania. Therefore, if you or your spouse do not meet this condition, either of you will need to live in the state for 6 months before filing.
Where I can file for divorce if I have children?
If you and your spouse have children, you may file in Pennsylvania if it’s a home state for your kids. In case it is not, you need to understand which court will have jurisdiction to make decisions related to your children. It is also important to make sure that your child has lived in the county for at least 6 months. Otherwise, you will have to file in the county he or she resided in before.