Most couples file for divorce while living in the same city or region, but this is not the case for everyone. If you plan to file for divorce and your spouse lives out of state, the matter becomes more complex than the typical divorce.
Here is a look at some of the most critical factors involved when you and your spouse live in different locations:
States respect the divorce rulings made by other jurisdictions, so having a divorce granted by one recognized by another is not a problem. The issues becomes more complicated when matters such as alimony or child support are involved.
A court may not enforce those types of rulings unless your spouse is served with legal papers, such as subpoena, or appears before the judge who granted the divorce. The nonresident spouse may, of course, resolve any potential dispute by paying the alimony or support voluntarily.
Remember that most states have residency requirements that you must meet before filing. This might mean that you must wait to file in some cases. For instance, if you left one state to get away from your spouse, you must establish residence in the new state in order to file in that jurisdiction. The amount of time you must live in a particular state to be considered a resident varies. Typically, you must wait at least six months.
If you plan to file for divorce in one state and your spouse plans to file in another, then it's usually advantageous to file first. The court that receives the first petition is the one that will finalize the divorce. If you do not file first, then you may have to pay significant travel expenses to appear before a judge in your spouse's state of residence.
The divorce process become even more complicated if, rather than a different state, your spouse lives in a foreign country. The steps you need to take in this situation depend on both the state laws where you reside and the laws in the country where your spouse lives. Treaties between the United States and the country involved, as well as international agreements such as the Hague Service Convention, may also be a factor.
Getting divorced from someone who does not live in your home state has a number of special features that make matters more difficult to sort out. If you find yourself in this troublesome situation, contact an experienced divorce attorney.