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Filing Divorce in Another State

It is not uncommon for a couple to get married in one state, move to a second state, then have one spouse move again when after they separate and file for divorce. All this movement can make it difficult to know where you need to go to get a divorce.

Generally, no state will require that you were married within the state in order to obtain a divorce there. Typically, to get a divorce in a certain state, you must be a resident of that state for a certain length of time. If the spouses currently live in different states, either can bring divorce proceedings in their state, if they meet the residency requirements.

If you or your spouse has recently moved and you're filing divorce, you can talk to a local divorce attorney to learn about these requirements and other steps in the divorce process. Connecting with a local attorney is easy — simply use the form below to get started today.

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State Residency Requirements for Divorce

In almost all cases, the spouse who initiates the divorce proceedings must file in county family court where he or she lives. Many states also require that the filer live in the state where they intent to file for a certain period of time before filing. For more details, see our divorce residency requirements page.

Meeting the Residency Requirements

If you have recently moved and do not meet the residency requirements of your new state, there are a few options available to you.

  • Legal Separation: Separation is often a precursor to divorce, and many states waive the residency requirement when granting a legal separation. Typically, separations will include property division, support and other issues common in divorce, which may make the divorce process smoother should you eventually take that next step.
  • File in Your Spouse's State: If your spouse lives in a different state and meets the residency requirements there, he or she may file. However, you will have to appear in that state for each court date — if it is a significant difference, this will require time and money to travel over the course of several months or years.
  • Check for Loopholes: Some states are willing to waive the residency requirements in certain circumstances, such as divorces brought on by adultery or abuse. Check with a divorce attorney in your area to see if you may be able to file immediately, even if you are a new resident to the state.
  • Wait it Out: If none of the above apply, you may choose to wait out the required period before filing divorce. However, you can discuss your options with an attorney during that time. An attorney can still be hard at work during the weeks or months before you can file, collecting important information from you and your spouse so that you'll be able to file when you are eligible.

What if My Spouse Files Divorce in Another State?

Many times, one spouse or another may move to a new state when they first separate to get a fresh start, even before they divorce.

Divorce laws in each state dictate that when a divorce petition is filed in that state, the entire divorce proceeding must be held within that state's courts. That means that you may have to travel across state lines or across the country if your spouse files divorce in another state.

Connect with a divorce attorney in your area today to learn more about divorce laws where you live. Simply fill out the case review form above to get started.