Filing for divorce is a lot simpler than it used to be, but there are still things that can complicate an otherwise straightforward separation. One issue that often pops up is determining where to file the divorce petition when one person lives in another state. Although there are many things to consider when addressing this issue, here are two questions to ask to help you figure out what to do.
Which State Has Jurisdiction Over Your Ex-Spouse?
Choosing the right state to file your divorce is critical because it may be impossible to decide or enforce certain aspects of the separation if the court where the petition was filed doesn't have personal jurisdiction (i.e. legal power) over one or both parties. For instance, the judge may be able to grant the divorce but be unable to rule on child custody issues because your ex can't be subjected to the state's laws.
Determining whether a court has personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state party can be tricky, though, because the rules vary from state to state. For instance, some states have a long-arm statute that says—for the purposes of divorce—anyone who resided in the state prior to the divorce filing or has a matrimonial home there can be subjected to that state's personal jurisdiction.
It's essential you check the personal jurisdiction laws in the state you want to file to ensure they will apply to all parties. However, even if they don't cover you or your ex, it's possible to get around this issue by consenting to be subjected to the target state's laws. An attorney can help you file the required paperwork to make this happen.
Which State's Laws are Better for Your Case?
The second thing you want to consider when deciding where to file your divorce is which state's separation laws are better for your case. For instance, one state may have laws that favor you when it comes to splitting the marital assets, whereas another state may be better if you're trying to get your ex to pay alimony.
This is one area where it's better to seek out the advice of an attorney since it can be difficult to evaluate how a state's laws will affect you if you don't know how to read and interpret them. However, if you prefer to do your own research, you can find a lot of information about divorce statutes in different states online.
For help with your divorce, contact a local divorce lawyer.