Can You Write Your Own Divorce and Just Have It Notorized in the State of Pennsylvania?

By Beverly Bird

Most states -- including Pennsylvania -- go out of their way to allow spouses to divorce according to their own terms. You're encouraged to reach a settlement agreement and submit it to a judge, as this avoids the need for trial. But your agreement isn't a court order. It's just a contract that dictates the terms under which you and your spouse will end your marriage. Even if you notarize it, it doesn't finalize your divorce.

Pennsylvania Divorce Options

Pennsylvania offers four options for legally ending your marriage. One is rarely used, because it requires that your spouse be institutionalized in a mental hospital. You can file on fault grounds, and if you do, you must prove to the court that one spouse is to blame for the divorce. You can wait out a two-year separation period and file for a no-fault divorce, or you and your spouse can mutually agree to the divorce and file an affidavit, attesting to this. If you elect this option, you can be divorced in 90 days if you submit a signed and notarized settlement agreement to the court.

Submitting Your Agreement

Pennsylvania recognizes two types of settlement documents: marital agreements and property agreements. The latter only deals with financial issues. If you have children, you'll need a comprehensive marital agreement. Both agreements are enforceable as contracts, but they don't grant you a divorce. You can only be officially divorced when you file a petition to end your marriage, then resolve property and custody issues either by trial or agreement. When you submit an agreement to the court, a judge incorporates its terms into a divorce decree.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Divorce in PA After Two Years When a Spouse Does Not Agree on Settlement

References

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Illinois No-Fault Divorce Laws

Most Illinois couples who decide to part ways use the state’s irreconcilable differences ground for divorce. Although this is not technically a no-fault rule, it is the closest thing to it that Illinois offers. If you file divorce papers on grounds of irreconcilable differences, you don’t have to accuse your spouse of fault or of doing anything wrong in order to obtain a legal end to your marriage.

How Many Days Apart Equals a Legal Separation?

Legal separation is not typically defined by the amount of time you and your spouse live apart. In many cases, it depends on whether an agreement or a court order is in place that governs the terms of your separation. State laws vary, and you may be legally separated when an agreement or court order exists, even if neither of you has moved out of the marital home yet.

New Hampshire Uncontested Divorce Requirements

An uncontested divorce is exactly what it sounds like: neither spouse is objecting to the dissolution of the marriage. However, New Hampshire takes this one step further. You and your spouse must also agree on every detail of how you’re going to separate your lives. If you can’t reach an agreement, your divorce is contested. Even if you and your spouse are only disputing one small detail, the law requires a judge to decide that one small detail for you.

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