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Most divorces involve couples living in the same state, but what if one spouse has moved to a different state? Individuals in this situation often wonder how this situation will complicate the divorce process. The answer depends on several factors including who filed for divorce first and state residency requirements. As a divorce lawyer can explain, the rules and requirements are not difficult to follow but they are important to understand if a divorce becomes necessary. 


To complete an out-of-state divorce, couples need to consider these three legal factors: 

  1. Filing versus jurisdiction – The state where divorce papers were filed first generally has jurisdiction over the divorce. This can be a big problem for the other spouse because they have to hire a lawyer in that state and travel there for court proceedings. 
  2. Understanding state laws – Once you know what state has jurisdiction, you need to understand the rules that apply for that state. Different states have different rules concerning assets, financial liabilities, child support, and custody.
  3. Residency – Make sure you meet the state’s requirement before attempting to file for divorce there.  

State Filing Requirements

All states have rules regarding who can file for divorce and when. The most relevant requirement for an out-of-state divorce is the residency requirement. Residency rules vary by state, but six months living in the state is a common requirement to file for divorce there. If your spouse files from another state, the burden is on them to meet the residency requirement in that state.

If you are filing for divorce and your spouse has moved out of the sate, the residency requirement is probably not relevant. In rare cases where a couple marries in one state, moves to another and then breaks up, the spouse who files will have to abide by rules in the state where the marriage took place. Of course, a couple that is splitting up always has the option to wait a month or two so they meet the residency requirements in their current state of residence.

For example, a couple marries in Tennessee, moves to Ohio, and relationship troubles send one spouse to family in Indiana. Where does the spouse in Indiana file for divorce? If the couple still has not established residency in Ohio, that individual would file for divorce in Tennessee. 

Contact a Lawyer Today

Most individuals who file for divorce can benefit from the services of a divorce lawyer. Contact an attorney today to discuss the specifics of your case.