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Divorce considerations when you and your ex live in different states

When married people in California separate, it is not unusual for one spouse to move to a different state. They may be following a new romantic partner, chasing a job opportunity, or they might simply feel like putting hundreds or thousands of miles between themselves and their ex.

A divorce that crosses state lines can create complications in the case. At the same time, it might also be an opportunity for you to get a better result.

Interstate divorce requirements and decisions

When spouses each live in a different state, either of them may file for divorce in either state in which one of them is a resident. Each state has its own requirements for establishing residency. Here in California, before you can begin a divorce, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing. Also, one of you must have lived in the same county for at least three consecutive months. This requirement could delay your divorce filing if you or your ex recently moved to the Golden State.

But if you and your ex have each established residency in your respective states, you each have the choice of filing in your home state or the state where your ex lives. Each state has its own marriage laws. Depending on the circumstances, it may be to your advantage to conduct your divorce in your ex’s state rather than California — or vice versa, if you are the one who lives out of state.

The race to file first

Because of this, spouses sometimes race each other to file first. The first filing is the one that determines jurisdiction, or in which state’s courts the divorce will be held. If you and your divorce attorney have a strong preference for one state over the other, it is important to file for divorce as soon as possible. You also must make sure your spouse gets served the divorce papers properly, or the judge could dismiss your filing.

To learn more about if an out-of-state divorce filing would benefit you, consult your divorce lawyer.