How does divorce work if you live in different states?
Filing for divorce is a complex and challenging endeavor. In the best of circumstances, it is time consuming and emotionally stressful. It can become even more challenging when one spouse resides in another state.
The good news is that while logistics may pose a temporary problem, this does not mean your divorce cannot move forward, provided you are willing to be flexible.
Proof of residency is a prerequisite prior to filing a divorce in every state. Many couples get confused thinking that where they were initially married or received their marriage license is their place of residency, but that is not necessarily true.
Simply put, you can only file in the state where you and your spouse “currently” claim residency, the place where either you or your spouse call “home.” However, only one of you needs to actually prove residency before divorce proceedings can begin.
The residency requirement is the amount of time you have lived in the state before you are able to file for divorce. The number of days and or months
varies within each state.
For example, in the state of Illinois a minimum of 90 days is required for residency before the party can file for divorce, while in California the requirement for residency is 6 months. That is quite a difference.
How States Handle Issues When Couples Live in Different States
Living in different state while attempting to get divorced does not need to be stressful. If the split between the couple is amicable, the process than becomes a lot easier. If your case is straightforward and you and your spouse both agree to the material terms of the divorce, the state where you actually file for divorce may not matter.
However, not all states are equal when it comes time to deal with issues such as alimony, child support, custody, and property division. Some states have more favorable laws for both parties, while others may be more adversarial towards one party or the other.
Another issue that may impact the process is jurisdiction: a court may lack authority over the other spouse, but the court still has the power to grant the divorce. When the court has jurisdiction over the marriage but not over the spouse, the situation can be complicated.
Also, the state may additionally lack jurisdiction over the other spouse if that individual had little or no contact with the state in a meaningful way.
Additionally, when it comes to the issue concerning property rights within another state, the court cannot render a decision. The court may also not be able to preside over issues related to child custody.