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Filing a No Fault Divorce under § 3301 (d) of the Divorce Code
Living Separate and Apart
Self Help - Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas

To file under §3301(d) the parties must have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two (2) years with the date of separation commencing prior to December 5, 2016, or one (1) year with the date of separation commencing on or after December 5, 2016.

This informational section is for reference and research purposes. This section explains the basic forms needed for a plaintiff to file a simple No Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania when the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two (2) years with the date of separation commencing prior to December 5, 2016, or one (1) year with the date of separation commencing on or after December 5, 2016.

Divorce in Pennsylvania involves important legal rights involving money, property, and custody of children. The forms provided on this website are not appropriate for everyone. If you and/or your spouse have property, such as real estate, automobiles, life insurance, pension and retirement benefits, stocks, bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, loans, or other assets and debts, you should seek the advice of an attorney. Marital property is all property acquired during marriage, regardless of whose name is on a title, policy, or account. IF YOU DO NOT FILE A CLAIM FOR ALIMONY, DIVISION OF PROPERTY, LAWYER'S FEES OR EXPENSES BEFORE A DIVORCE IS GRANTED, YOU MAY LOSE THE RIGHT TO CLAIM ANY OF THEM.

The form links below are available in PDF or Word format. There is no difference in the content of the forms, you may choose the format you prefer to work in.

State and Local Court Rules Must Be Followed.

If the Defendant is serving in the military, then STOP and consult an attorney.

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Before you begin using the forms on the computer, print a copy of the checklist. This printable checklist is meant to be used in conjunction with this self-help section.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: To complete the divorce successfully, you must follow all instructions on the checklist and on the forms exactly as written. You must also record the dates on which you take certain steps on the printed checklist so that you have those dates to complete other forms later in the process. If you fail to do the steps in the proper order, fail to complete steps, or fail to keep track of dates, you risk having your divorce denied. Completing the divorce process is your responsibility. No additional assistance is available.

General Instructions To Parties With No Lawyer

There are complex rules of law that everyone who comes to court must follow. You must follow these rules even though you are not a lawyer because the rules exist to provide an orderly process to reach a fair conclusion. Click here

File a praecipe for self-representation with the Clerk of Judicial Records if you are representing yourself in a Family Court case.

Section 1 - Complaint Preparation
Step 1. Form preparation

  • Complete the following forms in order and print the number of copies indicated on each form.

Step 2. Signature

  • Sign and date forms 4 and 10 from step 1, do not sign from 12

Step 3. Packet assembly

DO NOT add or attach any other documents, photos, photocopies, etc. to any of the form packets. Doing so may cause your Divorce to be denied.

  • Assemble into three (3) Complaint packets
    • One packet for the Clerk of Judicial Records containing the following completed forms:
      • Form 3 Notice to Defend and Claim Rights
      • Form 4 Complaint
      • Form 10 Affidavit under §3301(d)
      • Form 12 Blank copy of Counter Affidavit under §3301(d)
    • One packet for your records containing the following completed forms:
      • Form 3 Notice to Defend and Claim Rights
      • Form 4 Complaint
      • Form 10 Affidavit under §3301(d)
      • Form 12 Blank copy of Counter Affidavit under §3301(d)
    • One packet to be served on the defendant containing the following completed forms:
      • Form 3 Notice to Defend and Claim Rights
      • Form 4 Complaint
      • Form 10 Affidavit under §3301(d)
      • Form 12 Blank copy of Counter Affidavit under §3301(d)

Section 2 - Filing the Complaint

  • Take the following items to the Clerk of Judicial Records located in room 122 of Lehigh County Courthouse:
    • All three (3) completed Complaint packets from Section 1-Form Preparation step 3
    • Cash, Money order or Credit/Debit Card to cover divorce filling fees. No personal checks will be accepted. Note when using a Credit/Debit Card a service fee will be added. For filing fees see the Civil Fee Schedule
    • Give all three packets to the Clerk. The original will be kept by the Clerk; two copies will be returned to you; keep one for your own records; serve one on the Defendant (see next section)

Section 3 - Serving the Defendant by Certified mail

Time deadline of Service

The Plaintiff must serve the defendant with the Complaint (form 4), the Notice to Defend (form 3), Affidavit under §3301(d) (form 10) and a blank copy of th Counter Affidavit under §3301(d) (form 12) within 30 days of the date that Forms 3, 4, 10 and 12 were filed with the Clerk of Judicial Records or within 90 days if the Defendant does not live in the state of Pennsylvania.

Manner of Service

Certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery

Step 1 Preparing Complaint packet for Service
  • Address an envelope to the defendant
  • Put the following in the envelope addressed to the defendant:
    • one (1) timed stamped Complaint packet Containing:
      • Form 3 Notice to Defend and Claim Rights
      • Form 4 Complaint
      • Form 10 Affidavit Under §3301(d)
      • Form 12 Blank copy of Counter Affidavit under §3301(d)
Step 2 Going to the Post Office
  • Take your printable Checklist that contains instructions on how to send Certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery
  • Take the envelope addressed to the defendant containing Complaint packet
  • Take money for postage
Step 3 Completing Domestic Return Receipt (green post card form 3811)
  • Obtain Domestic Return Receipt from the post office
  • Complete according to instructions on your printable checklist

If you are unsuccessful or unable to serve the Defendant, then STOP and consult an attorney.

Section 4 - Proof of Service

Once you receive the Domestic Return Receipt (green post card Form 3811) signed by the defendant do the following:

Step 1. Form Preparation

  • Complete the following forms and print the number of copies indicated on each form.

Step 2. Signature

  • Sign and date all copies of the completed forms from Step 1 that require your signature

Step 3. Attach

  • Attach the Domestic Return Receipt (green post card Form 3811) to Form Exhibit A.

Step 4. Photocopy

  • Make a photocopy of Form Exhibit A that has the green post card attached.

Step 5. Packet assembly

  • Assemble into two (2) Proof of Service packets.
    • One packet for the Clerk of Judicial Records containing the following completed documents:
      • Form 5D Affidavit of Service of Complaint
      • Form Exhibit A with attached Domestic Return Receipt (green post card Form 3811)
    • One packet for your records containing the following completed documents:
      • Form 5D Affidavit of Service of Complaint
      • Photocopied Form Exhibit A

Step 6. File

  • File now by taking both Proof of Service packets assembled in step 5 to the Clerk of Judicial Records located in room 122 of Lehigh County Courthouse
     
  • Give both Proof of Service packets to the Clerk. The original will be kept by the Clerk, the copy will be returned to you for your own records

Section 5 - Allow 20 days for Defendant's response

  • If you were able to complete Section 4-Proof of Service, you now have proof that you served the Complaint (Form 4), Notice to Defend (Form 3) Affidavit Under §3301(d) (form 10) and a blank copy of Counter Affidavit under §3301(d) (form 12) on the defendant.
  • You must wait 20 days from the date of service to allow the defendant to respond before proceeding to the next section. Date of service is the date the defendant signed the green post card Form 3811.
  • Do not continue to the next section until after the 20 day waiting period.
  • If the defendant does respond by filing documents, then STOP and consult an attorney.

Section 6 - Notice of Intention to Request Divorce Decree
Step 1. Form Preparation

  • Complete the following forms and print the number of copies indicated on the form
    • Form 14 Notice of Intention and Blank Copy Cover Letter | MS Word
    • Form 12 Counter Affidavit Under §3301(d) pdf | MS Word
    • Form 11 Notice of Intention to Request Divorce Decree: pdf | MS Word

Step 2. Signature

  • Sign and date forms 11 and 14 of the completed forms. Do not sign form 12.

Step 3. Packet Assembly

  • Assemble into three (3) packets.
    • One packet for the Clerk of Judicial Records containing the following completed forms:
      • Form 14 Notice of Intention and Blank Copy Cover Letter
      • Form 11 Notice of Intention to Request Divorce Decree.
      • Form 12 Blank copy of Counter Affidavit Under §3301(d)
    • One packet for your records containing the following completed documents:
      • Form 14 Notice of Intention and Blank Copy Cover Letter
      • Form 11 Notice of Intention to Request Divorce Decree
      • Form 12 Blank copy of Counter Affidavit Under §3301(d)
    • One packet to be mailed to the defendant containing the following completed forms:
      • Form 14 Notice of Intention and Blank Copy Cover Letter
      • Form 11 Notice of Intention to Request Divorce Decree
      • Form 12 Blank copy of Counter Affidavit Under §3301(d)

Step 4. Mailing Defendant's packet

  • Mail Defendant's packet to Defendant by regular first class mail
  • Save other two packet for Section 8 Finalization

Step 5. Wait 20 Days

  • You must wait another 20 days from the date you mailed the packet from Section 6 Step 4 which allows Defendant to respond before proceeding to the next section
  • If Defendant does respond by filing documents, then STOP and consult an attorney.

Section 7 - Certification of Service for Notice of Intention and Blank Counter Affidavit
Step 1. Certification of Service

  • Make sure you have mailed the Defendant's packet by First Class Mail
  • Complete the following form and print the number of copies indicated on the form

Step 2. Signature

  • Sign and date all copies of form 13

Step 3. Attach to Packet

  • Attach one (1) copy to the saved packet form Section 6 for the Clerk of Judicial Records. Hold onto the packet until Section 8 Finalization
  • Attach one (1) copy to the saved packet form Section 6 that is for your records. Hold onto this packet until Section 8 Finalization

Step 4. Allow 20 days for Defendant's response

  • You must wait 20 days from the date you mailed the packet from Section 6 Step 4 which allows Defendant to respond before proceeding to the next Section

Section 8 - Finalization
Step 1. Form Preparation

  • Complete the following forms and print the number of copies indicated on each form.

Step 2. Signature

Sign and date all copies of the completed forms from Step 1 that require your signature.

Step 3. Packet Assembly

  • Assemble into two (2) packets.
    • One packet for the Clerk of Judicial Records containing the following completed documents:
      • Form 8 Praecipe to Transmit Record
      • Form 9 Decree
      • Form 11 Notice of Intention to Request Divorce Decree from section 6
      • Form 12 Blank copy of Counter Affidavit Under §3301(d) from section 6
      • Form 13 Certification of Service from section 6
      • Form 14 Notice of Intention and Blank Copy Cover Letter form section 6
    • One packet for your records containing the following completed documents:
      • Form 8 Praecipe to Transmit Record
      • Form 9 Decree
      • Form 11 Notice of Intention to Request Divorce Decree from section 6
      • Form 12 Blank copy of Counter Affidavit Under §3301(d) section 6
      • Form 13 Certification of Service from section 6
      • Form 14 Notice of Intention and Blank Copy Cover Letter form section 6

Step 4. File

  • Take the following items to the Clerk of Judicial Records located in room 122 of Lehigh County Courthouse:
    • Both completed packets from step 3
    • Cash or Money Order to cover Praecipe to Transmit record fees. No personal checks or Credit/Debit Cards will be accepted. For filling fees see the Civil Fee Schedule
    • If you have not yet filed the Proof of Service packet from Section 4 you must do so now

Step 5.

If all the required forms are filled out correctly, filed in correct time line and the filing is done in accordance with the Rules of Court, the Decree is entered and mailed to you upon disposition.

We recommend that you use the printable checklist.

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Disclaimer
The forms and instructions that are available from this website are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Court employees cannot give you legal advice or help you fill out /complete the forms. It is your responsibility to read and complete the forms and to take required steps to file and serve the documents. If you decide to use these forms in an actual action, be prepared to spend appropriate time gathering information, completing forms and following the Rules of Court. The Court assumes no responsibility for the use of these forms and accepts no liability for actions taken by using these documents, including reliance on the instructions and/or contents. To obtain legal advice and to insure the proper use of this material, you should contact a lawyer.

If you want to obtain the service of an attorney, but do not know whom to contact, you should visit the Lehigh Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service website.

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