Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C.
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FILING DIVORCE ON YOUR OWN

Some people desire to File a divorce on their own. While there is no law the requires that you have an attorney in order to file divorce, the challenge that is often faced is knowing the steps that are needed to process the divorce as well as the legalities of what is needed in service and providing proof to the court. Filing a divorce on your own should never be attempted if you have property to divide or you have alimony issues as you have too much to lose if you do it wrong. Even when you have no issues, it is very difficult to navigate the court system and the requirements. That is not to say it is impossible, just more difficult. Filing the divorce itself is probably the easiest step of the process. You file a complaint for divorce, usually in the county you reside, although if you both waive venue you can file in another county that may have a lower filing fee. After the complaint if filed, however, you need to serve the complaint. This is normally done by certified mail, return receipt requested, but can also be done by acceptance of service or personal service. In some instances, if the defendant cannot be found, you may need to get permission to serve the defendant by publication. You need to prove to the court that service was made so you will need to file proof which varies depending on how the defendant was served. You may also need to verify a signature depending on the county and the method employed. After service is where it becomes tricky. The remaining documents are time-determinative documents based on whether you are filing a two year separation or a 90 day consent divorce. You need to make sure you have the right documents and that you file them and any proof in the correct order. Finally, you will have another set of documents to file to get your final decree if you have no issues that depending on the county need to be served by notice by a certain method, again with proof. If you have no assets and no issues, you may want to consider spending the money to make sure it is handled properly. Most firms will offer a lower cost divorce in these instances. At a minimum, you may want to consult a firm on an hourly basis to review the papers and steps as you go along. While most counties do not have forms available for you to file, if you really want to attempt to file on your own, you may want to contact Potter County in Pennsylvania to obtain any forms available that they have on divorce as many simple divorces are processed through this county, or consult your local bookstore for a how to file book which may be helpful in explaining the process and providing you with forms. 

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