Where Do You Get a Divorce?

If you and your spouse put some distance between you while you were trying to decide what steps to take, it could mean that you now live in two different states. Once you’ve decided to file for divorce, you may be wondering where to file for divorce. Here are some things to keep in mind.

State Residency Requirements

You don’t need to file for divorce in the same location where you got married. If you want to file for divorce, you need to meet the residency requirements for the place you currently live. In most places, you must have lived there for six months or more to file for a divorce. Some states have stricter guidelines of one year or more, while other states let you get divorced with shorter requirements. Even though the state sets the residency requirements, usually you file for divorce with the local county court.

The County/State Where You File Takes Jurisdiction

The state where the divorce is first filed typically has control over the divorce. This means that if your spouse files for divorce in his/her respective state, you will have to go to court where the divorce was filed. You’ll need a lawyer who can practice in that state. If the divorce documents were filed around the same time, you may be able to work out an arrangement with your spouse as to which state takes precedent. Sometimes, if there are children involved, the state where the children live most of the time will need to be involved. It largely depends on state law.

Which State Makes More Sense to File a Divorce?

State laws about divorce vary greatly. Different states treat property and debts acquired during the marriage differently. In one state, the law may be a 50/50 distribution, while in other places, it could be an “equitable distribution” that takes into account how the property was acquired and other elements of your situation. Child support and child custody laws can differ. You may also want to think about how many times you’ll be in court before settling the divorce.

Talk to Family Law Attorney

When you and your spouse live in different states and are ready to get a divorce, it can be advantageous to discuss your situation with an attorney to help you decide what is best for your situation.