Who Has Jurisdiction Over Your Divorce?

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Who Has Jurisdiction Over Your Divorce?

30 June 2019
 Categories: , Blog


You might get so caught up in the emotional aspect of your divorce that you fail to see things from a legal point of view. Ignoring legal jurisdiction when you divorce could cause unnecessary complications for divorcing couples. To help you better understand how jurisdictional issues could affect your divorce, read on.

Do You Have Legal Domicile?

To have a legal divorce, you must file in the state where you can show residence. In spite of rumors to the contrary, you don't have to return to the state where you were married to get divorced but you must file for divorce in the state where you are legally domiciled. It's not enough to just live in a state, you must be able to show that you have permanently relocated to a state. Doing so means you have lived there a certain number of months or years and that varies from state to state. Additionally, you should be ready to show proof of domicile through leases, mortgages, driver's licenses, and more. If you have not yet resided in the state long enough to file for divorce, you have no choice but to wait it out.

When Both of You are Legally Domiciled in Two Different States

It's not that uncommon for couples to live apart before they divorce. When the parties are domiciled in two different states, it can create a confusing situation for everyone. To make it clear, the states have no jurisdiction over a party that does not reside in the state. That means that divorce actions in your state may not be enough to force your spouse in another state to comply. States do have jurisdiction over the divorce itself, however. The state that 'wins' that honor is the one where the divorce is filed first. Couples who are on good terms might agree to file in one state or the other depending on property, custody, and debt laws in a certain state. If you are not on good terms, filing first might provide you with the benefits of dealing with issues on a local basis and making your spouse travel to you instead of the other way around. As you can imagine, divorce issues that are often already contentious may become even more so when only one of the two states has any power over some of the proceedings. For example, a state will not be able to enforce a property settlement when the property lies in another state.

For more guidance with this situation, speak to a divorce lawyer.