Understanding divorce forms is essential to navigating the Pennsylvania divorce process. The information below will outline the purposes of the various forms you may encounter.
Pennsylvania Divorce Basics
The Pennsylvania Divorce Code has two procedures. Section 3301(c) governs cases where the parties have an agreement. Section 3301(d) governs cases without an agreement, in which case the parties must have been separated for at least one year before filing.
The spouse filing the case is called the Plaintiff, and the other spouse is called the Defendant. To file for divorce, at least one of the parties must have been a Pennsylvania resident for at least six months before filing.
Most of the forms you'll need can be obtained from the Pennsylvania Courts website. The titles and form numbers listed below are those used on the website. A few forms are not available on the website, so they must be created or obtained elsewhere. Not all of these forms will be used in all cases.
Also be sure to read the Pennsylvania Divorce Procedure instructions.
Forms for All Divorce Cases
The following forms may be used in all cases, with or without an agreement of the parties:
- Self-Represented Party Entry of Appearance. Filed by a party not represented by a lawyer.
- Notice to Defend and Divorce Complaint (PA divorce Form 1). Filed by the Plaintiff to begin the divorce case. The first part of this form tells the Defendant that they may lose certain legal rights if a timely response is not filed. The Complaint asks the court to grant a divorce.
- Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (PA divorce Form 2). Requests the court to waive filing fees for a low-income party.
- Acceptance of Service (PA divorce Form 3a). Signed by a Defendant who agrees to use this form to avoid the necessity of being served with court papers by a process server.
- Affidavit of Service of Original Process by Mail (PA divorce Form 3b). Used if the Defendant is served by having the divorce papers be sent to them by certified, return-receipt mail.
- Affidavit of Personal Service (PA divorce Form 3c). Used if the divorce papers are delivered to the Defendant by a process server.
- Certificate of Service of Legal Papers Other than Original Process (PA divorce Form 3d). After the Defendant has been served with the Notice to Defend and Divorce Complaint, this form is used by either party to certify that legal papers were sent to the other party.
- Waiver of Notice for Plaintiff (PA divorce Form 6a). Allows the court to enter a Divorce Decree without further notice to the Plaintiff.
- Certificate of Service (PA divorce Form 11). An alternative to Form 3d.
- Praecipe to Transmit Record (PA divorce Form 12). Directs the court clerk to send the case records to the judge for entry of the Divorce Decree.
- Divorce Decree (PA divorce Form 13). This is the final order of the court, signed by the judge, that grants the divorce.
- Notice of Intention to Resume Prior Surname (PA divorce Form 15). Filed by a party who wishes to resume a prior surname.
- Counseling Notice (PA divorce Form 18). The Plaintiff prepares this form and sends it to the Defendant to inform them that marriage counseling is available.
- Marital Settlement Agreement. This document is signed by both parties, and sets forth their agreement as to division of property and debts, alimony, and child custody, visitation, and support.
- Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). If either or both of the parties have a pension plan that is to be divided, this document is required. Information about a QDRO, and a sample form, is available from the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System website; however, a QDRO should be prepared by a knowledgeable attorney.
Forms for Cases with an Agreement
In addition to the forms listed above, the following forms also may be needed in a case filed under Section 3301(c), where you and your spouse have reached an agreement:
- Affidavit of Consent of Plaintiff (PA divorce Form 5a). Gives the consent of the Plaintiff to entry of a Divorce Decree after service of Form 7.
- Affidavit of Consent of Defendant (PA divorce Form 5b). Gives the consent of the Defendant to entry of a Divorce Decree after service of Form 7.
- Waiver of Notice for Defendant (PA divorce Form 6b). Allows the court to enter a final decree without further notice to the Defendant.
- Notice of Intention to Request Entry of Section 3301(c) Divorce Decree and Counter-Affidavit under 3301(c) (PA divorce Form 7). A two-part form: In the first part, one party notifies the other that they intend to request the entry of a Divorce Decree. The second part is a form the other party may file if desired.
Forms for Cases Without an Agreement
In addition to the forms for all cases, the following forms may be used in a case filed under Section 3301(d), where you and your spouse do not have an agreement:
- Affidavit under Section 3301(d) of the Divorce Code (PA divorce Form 8). A certification that the requirements for a divorce without an agreement have been met.
- Notice of Intention to Request Entry of Section 3301(d) Divorce Decree and Counter-Affidavit (PA divorce Form 9). Essentially the same as Form 7, but for a case without an agreement.
- Affidavit of Non-Military Service (PA divorce Form 10). Certifies that the Defendant is not serving in the military. A defendant serving in the military has certain rights that complicate obtaining a divorce.
In addition to the numerous Pennsylvania court forms outlined above, many counties have their own forms and requirements, so be sure to check with your county's court clerk's office or website. You may decide to get help from an online service provider to ensure that you follow all the procedural steps—and file the requisite forms—correctly.