Starting a Divorce Action
The initial step is to get a Complaint filed with the court. The Complaint would include the grounds under which you are seeking divorce as well as any other types of relief requested. For example, your complaint would state if you are asking for a no-fault divorce on the basis of mutual consent or separation or a fault divorce. It may also include counts for equitable distribution if there is marital property, custody if there are minor children involved, and support for minor children or between spouses. There is a filing fee due at the time the complaint is filed.
Once a divorce complaint is filed it must be served on the opposing party before the matter can proceed. Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1930.4 discusses acceptable methods of service for all domestic relations matters.
The complaint can be served by personal service or certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested. If the complaint is being served personally, the person effectuating service should complete an affidavit of service indicating when and where the opposing party was served. Personal service can be carried out by any adult that is not a party to the action. The Sheriff can be contacted to effectuate personal service for a fee. There are also numerous private companies that will effectuate service for a fee. The opposing party also has the option to sign an Acceptance of Service form. This is a good option for an amicable divorce. Service in a divorce matter must be accomplished within 30 days of when the complaint was filed. If service is not completed within the applicable time frame, the complaint must be reinstated and a new thirty-day period begins to run.