You and your spouse decided to live apart a while ago to stop fighting and move on with your lives. You never went through the process of divorce at the time because it just didn’t seem necessary. Now, however, things have changed for you. There is another person with whom you want to take the next step, so a divorce needs to occur. Your spouse has moved on and out of state. You believe you know where, but you aren’t entirely certain. How do you file for divorce when you live in a different state than your spouse?
Residency Requirements for Filing a Petition
Most state laws have a standard time a spouse must live in a state before filing for divorce within that state. In some states, the timeframe may be shorter – like six months – or longer. Regardless of the residency requirements where you live, know that you do not have to file for divorce in the state you got married in. If you meet the minimum residency requirements for your state, you may go ahead and file where you live.
Serving a Spouse Who Lives Out of State
The toughest part about initiating divorce across state lines is getting your spouse served. The party who starts the action must have the other party served with the petition by a process server or law enforcement official. If you and your spouse are cordial, you can arrange for them to meet a process server at a specific time and place or perhaps even accept service willingly. However, if you are not sure of your spouse’s exact location or they may not be amenable to cooperating, you may have a fight on your hands.
The Governing Laws
There is a chance that both you and your spouse meet the requirements for filing a divorce within the state you each currently reside. In this case, a family law attorney might suggest taking a look at the divorce laws of each state, and deciding which ones are more favorable for your situation. Perhaps one state favors an equal split of property while the other participates in equitable (and sometimes unfair) distribution. Meet with someone who can help you decide which route to take to get the best resolution.
Getting a divorce even after you and your spouse have lived apart can be complicated. The matter can be made more stressful if one of you lives outside the boundaries of the same state. Take some time to consider your options and get the help you need in closing one chapter and moving on to another.