The first step in pursuing a divorce is to have a Complaint filed with your local 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 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. The amount of the filing fee varies by county. Once a divorce complaint the court will assign a case number. This case number is to be used on all future filings regarding the case.
After filing a complaint, the next step is service. Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1930.4 discusses acceptable methods of service for all domestic relations matters. The opposing party also has the option to sign an Acceptance of Service form. This is a viable option if the divorce is amicable. The complaint can be served by personal service. 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. Finally, a complaint may be served via mail; specifically, certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery. Service in a divorce matter must be accomplished within 30 days of when the complaint was filed where the Defendant is within the Commonwealth.