Where You Need to File for Divorce If You and your Spouse Live in Different States

Wedding Rings by a Gavel and Scales of JusticeWhen spouses decide to divorce, they frequently separate so they can start building their new lives. If one partner moves to another state before the divorce is filed, this can make filing for divorce more complicated than if they live in the same community or state.

How to Determine Which Court Has Jurisdiction Over a Divorce

Every state has its own requirements that must be met for a court to have the jurisdiction to decide the issues in the divorce proceedings. In Virginia, a person must establish legal grounds for divorce under our commonwealth’s laws. Individuals can file a no-contest divorce if they agree to the divorce and all the issues that must be resolved, or an at-fault divorce if they meet the specific grounds required for this type of divorce.

In addition, they must meet the residency requirements for filing a divorce in Virginia. One spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing the divorce and must be living in the commonwealth at the time the complaint is filed.

When Your Divorce May Be Filed in Another State

While it may be less convenient to have a divorce decided in a state where you do not live, in some cases, this happens. Here are a few situations when your divorce could be filed in another state:

  • Don’t meet residency requirements. If you do not meet the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Virginia and do not want to wait to file your divorce, it may be better to file it in the state where your spouse lives.
  • Spouse files first. You and your spouse may both be able to file your divorce where you live. If your spouse files for divorce first, the court in that jurisdiction would have the authority to decide your divorce.
  • Children live in another state. If your children live in another state, it may be less stressful for them if the divorce is filed there. Before making this decision, it is important to understand how that state’s laws will impact on important issues in your divorce.
  • More favorable laws. You and your spouse may decide that it would be beneficial to file your divorce in the state where they live if it is easier to establish grounds for divorce or the laws on how custody, child and spousal support, and property division will be decided are more favorable to both of you.

If you are thinking about filing for divorce, our experienced divorce attorneys are here to answer your questions and guide you through the process of filing for divorce so that your rights are protected. To get started, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.


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