Allegheny County Clarifies Some Divorce Procedures

Court procedures are complicated even for those who practice law. Allegheny County has clarified a few procedural issues.

1. Filing an Inventory and Obtaining a Rule

In order to move your divorce forward, your attorney must file an "Inventory and Appraisement" which sets forth the marital assets and debts. Once you file, you obtain what is called a "Rule to File" requiring the other side to file their Inventory within 30 days. The Family Law Section recently clarified that in order to properly file an inventory, counsel (or a party) should first file their Inventory with the Department of Court Records. Then, they take their Praecipe along with a time-stamped copy of the filed Inventory to the Docket Clerk located on the second floor of the Family Division building. The Docket Clerk can then file the Praecipe.

2. Language to Obtain a Final Decree

Once all of your claims related to a divorce are resolved, the correct procedure is to Praecipe to Transmit the Record and obtain the divorce decree. However, if you have settled your economic claims with a Marriage Settlement Agreement and have chosen not to file it, you may have the Divorce Decree kicked back for not presenting any evidence that the economic claims have been settled. In order to get around this issue, your attorney has several options when filing the Praecipe to Transmit the Record.

  • List the existence of the agreement under the portion of the Praecipe that reads "none;"
  • Write in the Divorce Decree that the parties have settled the economic claims with a Marriage Settlement Agreement and provide the date; or
  • File the Marriage Settlement Agreement

However, it is important that you consult with your legal counsel before filng the Marriage Settlement Agreement. All filed pleadings become public record and you do NOT want to have your sensitive private financial information publicly available.