Divorcing a spouse who resides in another state might seem like a complex matter, but it only requires a few extra considerations at the outset with regard to the question of jurisdiction before moving forward. All but three states (Alaska, South Dakota and Washington) have residency requirements that must be met before a person can file for divorce in that state; in general, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months, but some states only require two or three months of residency. Filing for divorce requires proof of one or both spouses’ residency. In addition, some states are strict about the meaning of “residency,” requiring that a person have a permanent address in the state rather than simply being present temporarily – as one might be if he or she is in the military or staying with relatives during the divorce process.
If one spouse fulfills a given state’s residency requirement while the other has recently relocated to another state or has no fixed address, the divorce will be limited to the state in which the spouse who fulfills the residency requirement lives. On the other hand, if both spouses each meet the residency requirement for their respective states, the spouse filing for divorce has some leeway – he or she can choose which state to file in. A few important factors should be considered before this decision is made, however.
First, doing some research into both states’ laws can be invaluable. State laws can vary considerably when it comes to important issues like property division, alimony and child support, and some jurisdictions’ laws may prove more favorable to a person’s circumstances than others might. It is also important to keep in mind that one spouse will have to travel to court in the chosen jurisdiction from another state whenever the case demands it, so money should be reserved for travel costs. An experienced attorney could provide insight into legislative differences between jurisdictions and make a recommendation based on the circumstances of the case. Once the state is selected, the divorce papers can be filed with the court that holds jurisdiction over the case.