Filing for Divorce When Your Spouse Lives in Another State
Many people who file their own divorce without a lawyer have a spouse that lives in another state. Many times, even before the filing of the divorce is initiated, one spouse, or both, may move to a new state. This is very normal and filing a pro se divorce under these circumstances is very common.
Which State Should You File for Divorce In?
A couple is not required to file for a divorce in the state where they were married. This is a common divorce myth that quickly gets exposed early in the divorce process.
A spouse who wants to file for a divorce must meet the residency requirements and then may file in the state and county where he or she currently resides. It may be an option to file in the state they were married, but if they do not live in that state often times they would be making things much more difficult. Filing for divorce in the county in which the filing spouse resides is the most common and expected choice because of convenience and it is where he or she pays taxes to support the judicial system and courthouse.
Residency requirements vary from state to state according to state specific statutes. These laws have specific requirements a divorcing party must adhere to before a divorce filing will be accepted by the court. Alaska, South Dakota, Nevada and Washington are the most lenient with the residency requirements than the other states. Residency requirements to file for a divorce in a specific court ranges from 60 days to a year.
When a party fails to meet residency requirements, the court will reject (or not even accept) his or her initial filing of the Petition or Complaint and related paperwork. The divorce case will be rejected and the case will be dismissed. Clerks of Court will often ask those filing for a divorce if they meet the residency requirements prior to accepting the Petition or Complaint and the filing fee. Sometimes the only remedy to the situation for a filing spouse is to actually wait until he or she meets the residency requirements. If one spouse or the other does not meet the residency requirements for the state in which he or she wants to file, the party filing often is forced to wait the time to become a resident or the other party can file in the state he or she has met the residency requirements. If you are filing in a state relying on your spouse's residency, you may be required to submit proof of that residency, such as a driver's license, voter registration card, or lease agreement.
Making the Best Choice For Your Divorce Case
Sometimes, other circumstances make filing in one state over another a better choice. Divorce law does varies from state to state, so choosing between two states, if it is an option, can be a careful consideration. With an uncontested divorce where both parties are in agreement, the applicable laws regarding property and debt may not be much of an issue. Most of the time a choice between two states is decided based on residency requirements, mandatory waiting periods, overall length of time it takes for the divorce to become final, and existing order regarding any minor children.
DIVORCE RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS BY STATE?