When your spouse wants a divorce, they will file a petition with the Pennsylvania family court. The law will then require them to give you the divorce petition papers in person or via mail, making sure that you receive them. After that, you’ll have a very limited time to respond.
Divorce petitioner vs. the respondent
The person who initiates the divorce process is called the petitioner, while their spouse is referred to as the respondent. In Pennsylvania, if your spouse files for divorce and serves you with papers, you must take action within 20 days. If you don’t answer the petition or file a counterclaim within that time frame, the court may assume that you consent to the divorce and move forward with proceedings.
How to answer a divorce petition in Pennsylvania
You can give two types of answers: A general denial answer or a counter-complaint for divorce. A general denial answer is when you agree with some of the statements in the divorce petition but not all, or if you don’t have enough information to determine if they’re true or not. A counter-complaint for divorce is when you also want a divorce and file your own petition along with your own demands. It’s more like suing them back.
If you plan on using a general denial answer, make sure that each paragraph denies a specific allegation made by your spouse. You’ll then sign the document before a notary public and file it with the court, providing copies to your spouse via mail or in person. If you want to file a counterclaim for divorce, follow the same steps but include your own complaint for divorce along with your answer.
You’ll always have a chance to solve all the issues of your marriage on your own, especially if you are filing a no-fault divorce. But if you can’t come to an agreement, the court will take over and decide for you over matters like division, alimony, and child custody.