Long-Distance Divorce: How to File for Divorce If Your Spouse Lives in Another State
Most U.S. divorces occur between spouses who live in the same state. But this is not always the case.
If you are planning to divorce your spouse and they live in a different state, the process can be complicated.
Perhaps your spouse moved to another state after your separation. Maybe you have maintained separate lives for an extended period of time before filing for divorce.
Whatever the case may be, many people have questions about the legal requirements for long-distance divorces. Below, we will discuss several of the most important issues surrounding this type of divorce.
Requirements of Residency
Even if your spouse lives in a different state, you can pursue a divorce. You are not required to return to the state in which your marriage license was issued.
However, you can only file for a divorce in a state where one of the relevant parties meets the residency requirement.
One of the divorcing spouses must meet the residency requirement before family courts will hear the case.
States have varying standards for residency requirements. A residency requirement is the amount of time that a spouse must live in a certain state before they can file for divorce.
Under Michigan state law, the residency requirement is 180 days. In most cases, you will need to provide evidence that one of the divorcing parties meets this requirement.
Relevant evidence includes:
- Driver’s licenses
- Voter registration documents
- An active lease
If either you or your spouse moved recently, you will need to wait until you meet the relevant residency requirement to file for divorce.
Choice of State Law
State laws surrounding divorce vary. If you and your former partner agree on the important parameters of the divorce, the state where you file may not matter quite as much.
However, if there are disagreements, state laws can impact the final outcome. Some state laws vary regarding:
- Child custody orders
- Child support
- Property division
- And more
It is important to understand how each state’s laws might influence the outcome of your divorce.
First to File and Full Faith and Credit
In most cases, courts will respect the first divorce petition that is filed. If both you and your spouse meet the respective residency requirements, the state where filing happens first is important.
Whichever state receives a petition first will have jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings.
Generally, courts will honor the terms of divorces that were decided in other states. This is covered by the “Full Faith and Credit” clause in the U.S. Constitution.
There may be extenuating circumstances in some cases. For instance, suppose one spouse was not notified about the divorce. If that happens, the divorce may not be honored by other states.
No matter where you end up filing, speaking with an experienced family law attorney will help you to understand all of your legal options.
Contact the Skilled Divorce Attorneys at Gucciardo Family Law
If you are pursuing a long-distance divorce, reach out to a family law attorney. A skilled legal professional can help you to understand how state laws and filing requirements may influence your divorce.
The accomplished team at Gucciardo Family Law has plenty of experience protecting the interests of our clients. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. We provide high-quality family law services in Michigan.
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