If My Spouse and I Live in Different States, Where Can We Get a Divorce?

Dissolving a marriage when the parties live in two different states is complicated because divorce is governed by state law. Parties may have lived in separate states for years before they decide to make it official with a divorce. While it may be more difficult and take longer, it is possible to get divorced under these circumstances.

Do I Have to Go Back to the State Where We Got Married?

While this is a common misconception, you do not need to return to the state where you married. Each state has a defined residency requirement, which is the length of time that you must live in that state before you can get a divorce there. You must file for divorce in the state where you or your spouse meet this legal definition. Also, the county where you live may have a residence requirement of its own.

In most jurisdictions, you can prove residency by providing a driver’s license or similar document establishing that you have lived there at least as long as required. If neither you nor your spouse meets the residency requirement of your state and county, you have two options.

  1. You could wait to file until one of you has lived in the state and county long enough to meet the residency requirement.
  2. You can file in the last state and county where you did meet the residency requirement.

Which State’s Laws Govern the Divorce?

If you and your spouse both meet the residency requirements in your respective states, then you must decide which state’s laws will govern the proceedings. If both parties are generally in agreement on things like property distribution, financial support, and child visitation and custody, it may not matter in which state you file. However, if any of these things are in dispute, you should see an attorney who can help you determine where the laws are most favorable to you.

Keep in mind that even if the court in your state can grant the divorce, it may not have jurisdiction over your spouse as an individual. It may not be able to make him or her to comply with its orders. Also, the court in your state cannot make rulings related to property located in another state. It may not be able to make rulings on child custody.

Where Can I Find Help with Getting a Divorce?

If you are facing divorce proceedings that cross state lines, contact a divorce lawyer, like a divorce lawyer in Bloomington, IL, who is familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. These decisions are too important to risk trying to handle them alone. You need a competent, capable professional who can help safeguard your interests and rights.

Thanks to Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into getting a divorce with a partner who lives in a different state.