Married in One State, Divorced in Another (Part 1)

When most people get married, they do so without really considering that they may find themselves ready to get a divorce someday. In many cases, individuals who are going through a divorce will do so in the same state in which they were married. However, not everyone remains living in the same place. Whether one of you is involved in the military, you followed a job or you simply were looking for a change of pace, you may find yourself looking at a divorce in another state, while your spouse stays behind in the previous state. So what happens when you need to get divorced in a different state than the one you were married in?

Residency Requirements
One of the biggest concerns in regard to getting divorced in a different state is the residency requirement. Most states require you to live in that state for at least six months before you file for divorce. Without residency, your former state will still maintain jurisdiction over your court case. This is one of the most difficult aspects of filing for divorce in a different state, causing you to wait longer than you want in cases where you have recently moved.

Waiving Residency Requirements
There are actually some situations in which the court can waive residency requirements. However, it can be difficult to obtain this waiver in most situations. Before you begin your divorce process, contact a local lawyer to find out if there are any loopholes that may apply to you. In some situations, a legal separation can also be a reason to waive residency requirements, allowing you to move forward with your divorce, even if you haven’t been living there for the required amount of time.

Can Your Spouse File First?
Many people think it is best to file first when getting a divorce. While filing first does not provide you with any clear benefits, it does put you on the offensive, which many people find to be the best place to be in a divorce. However, when you are dealing with residency requirements, you may wonder if your spouse can file first. If your spouse still lives in the original state from which you recently moved, he or she can file in that location first. When this happens, your divorce will fall under that state’s rules and you will need to travel back and forth to go to your court hearings.

Can You Change Jurisdiction?
Once a court case is filed, you may find it is an inconvenience, especially if your spouse filed first and you have to travel back to your original state to attend hearings. While you may be able to appear via phone for some hearings, you may not always be able to do this. In these situations, you may wish to change jurisdiction to bring your case closer to home. Unfortunately, many states will not release jurisdiction over a case as long as one party still lives in that state. This means you may be forced to continue to deal with the original state unless the other party moves to another location.

Read more in Part 2