Two people are seated across a desk, exchanging a document. One person is handing an envelope to the other; it looks like they've been served divorce papers. On the desk, there are books, a clipboard with papers, a gavel, and a scale. Both individuals are dressed professionally.

When your spouse files for divorce, inevitably coming is their serving you the divorce papers. Whether you were wanting or expecting these papers, you must be ready to respond. Read on to understand what steps you should take after being served divorce papers and how a skilled York County, PA divorce attorney at Ilkhanoff & Silverstein can guide you through the process.

What is the official way to serve divorce papers in the state of Pennsylvania?

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are two official ways in which you may be served divorce papers. The first way is via regular or certified mail, which will be addressed to you at your last known address with a return receipt requested.

The second way is via a sheriff or another capable adult besides your spouse. With this method, you are allowed to be served at your home, your usual place of business, or a hotel or boarding house where you live. Notably, the packet does not necessarily have to be handed to you directly.

Done properly, the packet will contain the following documents:

  • The cover sheet: this document will tell you what the paperwork is in regards to, who filed it, and who the person’s attorney is.
  • The notice to defend: this document will give you information about how to defend yourself and how to obtain the services of an attorney.
  • The complaint: this document is multiple pages and essentially requests the divorce. It will include factual details regarding your marriage, you and your spouse, and your children. Additionally, it will include what your spouse is requesting in regard to property division, alimony, child custody, and child support.
  • The verification page: this document is a part of the complaint and it will be signed by your spouse to state that what is covered in the complaint is true.

If I am served divorce papers, do I have to sign them?

It is important to not only note whether all of these required papers were included in the packet but to track if you were served within 30 days of your spouse originally filing the divorce papers. Once you have done that, you will need to file your appearance in court, which will include a filing fee. Then, you will need to appear in court on the date noted in the paperwork.

Unique to Pennsylvania, you are not required to file an answer to a divorce complaint. However, this does not necessarily mean that you should not. So if you choose to, you usually have 20 days from being served to do so.

Lastly, you may not think an attorney is necessary if your situation with your spouse is amicable. But nonetheless, one of our seasoned York County, PA family law attorneys will drop everything to help you ensure that you were served properly and that you respond in the best possible way and within the allotted timeframe.


If you need legal assistance with personal injury cases, criminal defense matters, family law issues, estate planning law matters, and more, contact Ilkhanoff & Silverstein today.