File for Divorce

How to File for Divorce If Your Spouse Lives in a Different State

Divorce is complicated regardless of your circumstances. If you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse live in different states, however, it can be even more difficult to successfully file for divorce. Rather than only having one state’s set of rules to worry about, you will need to navigate multiple states and the laws that apply. These are complex divorce cases that often require assistance from divorce attorneys.

What Are the Divorce Rates in Your State?

You are not the only person who has had to figure out how to file for divorce when your spouse lives in a different state. Divorce is common in the US, although overall rates have dropped since the commonly quoted statistic of 50% of all marriages ending in divorce. Today, the nationwide divorce rate is closer to 39% – the lowest it’s been in 50 years. The divorce rate where you live may be different from the national average.

  • Arkansas: 4.1 divorces per 1,000 people
  • Florida: 3.6 per 1,000
  • Oregon: 3.4 per 1,000
  • Nebraska: 2.9 per 1,000
  • Texas: 2.6 per 1,000
  • Louisiana: 1.7 per 1,000

Source: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state with the highest rate of divorce is Nevada, with 4.4 divorces per 1,000 population in 2018. This is potentially due to the high number of quick marriages that happen in Las Vegas. The state with the lowest rate is Illinois, with 1.5 divorces per 1,000 people. No matter where you or your spouse lives, you must follow the applicable rules for filing for divorce if you desire a dissolution of marriage.

Examples of Different State Residency Requirements

You do not have to live in the same state as your spouse – or the state where you got married – to get a divorce. If you live in different states, your main question is most likely which state you should file the paperwork in – yours or your spouse’s? The answer is usually the state where you live. You must meet that state’s residency requirements, however, before the courts will allow you to submit your divorce petition.

  •  Indiana: residency for at least six months and three months in the specific county.
  • Florida: residency for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
  • New York: residency for at least one continuous year prior to filing if you married in New York; if not, two years.

These are examples of the residency requirements in different states. Look up your state’s requirements online or ask a local divorce attorney for more information. If you do not meet the residency requirements and do not wish to wait, you may be able to file for divorce in the state where you moved from instead. Otherwise, you will need to wait until you have lived in the new state long enough to file there, or else get your spouse to file in his or her state.

Tax Considerations for Divorce in Different States

Although it generally will not matter who files for divorce first, things are different if you live in different states. The divorce laws in the state where the petition is brought will preside over your case. If you file in California, therefore, how the courts handle your case will look much different than a state such as Texas in terms of asset division and alimony – although it will not affect child custody or support. The state you file in can also have tax implications.

  • Liability for joint tax returns
  • Asset transfers
  • Division of retirement funds
  • Sold assets in a dissolution
  • Child support and spousal maintenance taxes

If you and your spouse can work out a settlement, where you file will not be as important. If you think your case will have to go to trial, however, choose where you file carefully. The state you select could work for you or against you. Learn more about how different states treat divorce cases by consulting an attorney.

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