Filing for Divorce in Different States
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Where Should I File if My Spouse and I Live in Different States?
When a married couple separates, sometimes the spouses end up living in different states. Filing for divorce in this situation can present many challenges, since every state has different divorce laws.
How Do I File for Divorce when My Spouse Lives Out of State?
In general, the most important factor to consider when filing for divorce in different states is residency.Each state has its own residency requirements. It is important that you file for divorce in a state you are a resident of otherwise the court will not be able to consider your case.
In order for your divorce to be effective, the court where you file for divorce has to have jurisdiction over you and your spouse. The court gains jurisdiction over your out of state spouse if you have the divorce papers served to your spouse in person, or if your spouse consents to jurisdiction by appearing in the court where you filed or signing an affidavit confirming that he or she has received the divorce papers.
If you and your spouse live in different states, each of you may file in your own individual states as long as you both meet the requirements of residency and jurisdiction. The choice of state is important, because it often determines issues such as child custody rights and the division of property.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Filing in Different States?
When you are looking to divorce, you are limited to filing for divorce only in the states where you and your spouse live. Filing in one state will sometimes be more advantageous for you than filing in another. This is why it is important to consult with a lawyer before you file, so that you know all the advantages and disadvantages of filing in either state. Here some issues that are affected by filing in different states:
- Child Custody and Visitation Rights: Each state has different laws governing filing in one state as compared to another might affect child custody, support, and visitation rights because each state has different laws on these topics.
- Division of Marital Property: Several states are different in the way they classify property earned during the marriage and how it should be divided when the marriage ends. You should check with a lawyer on whether your state is a community property state or equitable distribution state. This has an effect on how much you give or get from your spouse.
Another important thing to consider regarding out-of-state divorces is travel expenses. Many people cannot afford to travel from state to state for divorce hearings. You can avoid having to travel by using signed affidavits which will then be sent to the court handling your divorce.
What if Both Spouses Have Filed at About the Same Time in Different States?
If both spouses have filed for divorce at about the same time, this is known as "concurrent filing". The general rule is that the divorce hearing will proceed in the state where the papers were filed first. Additionally, the courts are much more likely to hear the case of whichever spouse provided notification of divorce to the other spouse first.
If a divorce suit has already been filed in one state, but is delayed for whatever reason, then the other spouse has no option but to wait out the hearings. A possible solution is to contact a lawyer and have him or her look into whether the process can be sped up.
For these reasons, filing for divorce can often result in a race to see which spouse files first. Therefore, it is important to contact a divorce attorney early on so you do not have go through divorce proceedings in a state that might not give you the best result.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Out of State Divorce?
Divorce is a serious matter and you should not file any paperwork without the advice of a family law attorney. You should check with an attorney to determine which state would be the best for you to file in. An attorney is also important in helping you present your case when it comes to things like child custody or division of property.
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Last Modified: 04-08-2014 03:35 PM PDT
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