Pennsylvania Divorce Residency Requirements

To obtain a divorce in Pennsylvania, one or both parties must live or be residents of Pennsylvania. A party may file an action for divorce in Pennsylvania if at least one of the spouses has been a “bona fide resident” of Pennsylvania for at least six months prior to the filing of the divorce complaint. “Bona fide resident” means actual residence coupled with the intention to remain there permanently or indefinitely.

A divorce decree can be issued against the defendant-spouse even if Pennsylvania does not have personal jurisdiction over the defendant-spouse. In other words, a divorce decree can be entered even if the other spouse does not reside in Pennsylvania and cannot be served with the legal papers in Pennsylvania. However, personal jurisdiction over the defendant-spouse is necessary if the spouses intend to pursue equitable distribution of marital assets and debts or other issues such as alimony.