| If you have decided to represent yourself in a divorce matter, there are several procedural and filing requirements of which you should be aware. First, it will be helpful to you to consult the Court’s Handbook for Self-Represented Litigants, which can be found here. This handbook covers many subjects regarding the legal process in general and provides practical guidance for navigating the civil courts.
There are particular forms that you can use to file a complaint for divorce. These standard forms generally can be used in any county in Pennsylvania, together with any additional forms or filing requirements that a particular county might have. You can find the necessary forms for filing complaints for divorce and other related documents on the website of the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System, which is located here. This website also includes a glossary of legal terms that you can consult if you do not understand the meaning of a word used by the Court or by an attorney.
Divorce cases are civil matters. Therefore, they are governed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, which can be found here. The rules that apply to divorce cases begin at Rule 1920.1. It will be helpful for you to review these rules prior to initiating your divorce action.
|Local Forms and Procedures
|The standard forms provided on the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System’s website are the only forms you will need to file a divorce action. However, you also should be aware of Armstrong County’s local civil rules of court, which also apply to divorce cases. The local rules can be found here. The local custody rules begin at Local Rule 1920.31.
|Filing Fees and Other Requirements
|Divorce documents, including complaints, are filed with the Armstrong County Prothonotary. A complaint for divorce must be filed in person at the Prothonotary’s office and may require payment of a filing fee. The address of the Prothonotary’s office, procedures for filing, and a fee schedule for filing particular documents can be found here on the Prothonotary’s website. The Prothonotary’s office is open for business between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is located on the first floor of the Armstrong County Courthouse, 500 E. Market Street, Kittanning, Pennsylvania 16201.
|Service of the Complaint and Other Papers
|Each time you file a divorce document, it must also be served by you on all other parties in the lawsuit. For divorce complaints, Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1930.4 provides the guidelines for how to serve the complaint on another party. Other documents filed by you in a divorce case must be served according to the procedures provided in Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 440. Rule 1930.4 and Rule 440 can be found here.
|Divorce Complaints that Include Claims for Custody
|If your divorce complaint contains a claim for custody and you want to proceed immediately with the custody claim, you must inform the Prothonotary when you file your complaint. The Prothonotary will give your further instructions.