It is customary, and sometimes required, for couples to separate from one another before divorcing. Sometimes one or both spouses move to entirely different states. If this is a scenario you find yourself in, it can cause complications if and when you decide to divorce. Though it does not prevent you from divorcing, it does mean that you have some extra considerations to make that couples who divorce in the same state do not have to worry about.
Divorce Laws Vary by State
State law governs divorce, and different states have different rules and requirements. If you are planning to divorce, you need to familiarize yourself with the divorce laws in your state. If your spouse has already filed for divorce, you should make an effort to find out about what those laws require of you.
First Filing Wins
If it is important to you to have the laws of your state apply to your divorce, you should file before your spouse does, if possible. When both couples file for divorce, the laws of the jurisdiction in which the first filing takes place typically apply to the proceedings as it relates to property division, child custody, etc. Therefore, if you believe the laws of your state are more favorable to you and your situation, it is important for you to file first. Of course, if you haven’t filed yet and your spouse has, it is probably too late and you will have to abide by the divorce rules of your ex’s state, as well as potentially hire an out-of-state attorney and make travel arrangements for court dates. However, there is one exception to this general rule.
Residency Requirements Must Be Met
Most states require that a person filing for divorce must live in that state for a certain amount of time. If your spouse moved away and didn’t fulfill the residency requirements of the new state before filing, his or her divorce petition is not valid. If your spouse filed an invalid petition first, and then you filed a valid one, the laws of your state would govern the proceedings.
Though some states require a person filing for divorce to be a resident for at least one year, most only require six months’ residency. There are a few states that impose no specific time frame and require only that the person be a resident of the state at the time of filing.
While there are challenges involved in divorcing someone in another state, it is possible. One of our attorneys can help determine whether you meet the requirements to file. Contact a lawyer, like a family law lawyer in Arlington, VA, today.
Thank you to the experts at May Law, LLP, for their time and input into family law.