A divorce is the legal termination of a marriage. As part of a divorce, the couple generally has to decide how to divide shared assets and how to share custody. One spouse may also have to pay alimony or spousal support after a divorce. As part of the separation before filing for a divorce, one spouse may move to a different state. When the spouses live in separate states, either one can file for divorce in the state where they reside.
Divorces can be highly contested and complicated. When a divorce involves people living in different states, it can be even more complicated. If you or your spouse are filing for divorce in another state, talk to an experienced divorce law attorney about your options and your rights.
Can My Spouse File for Divorce in Another State if I Live in North Carolina?
In general, either spouse can file for divorce in any state where a spouse fulfills the residency requirements. For the purposes of a divorce, it does not matter which state you were married in. It only matters which state either spouse resides in. When spouses live in separate states, there may be two different states where the divorce can be filed.
A final divorce decree issued in another state will be effective even if the other spouse lives in a different state. Do not ignore an out-of-state divorce filing. It can still be valid even if you don't respond. A spouse cannot prevent a divorce from going forward by ignoring the out-of-state divorce proceeding. Even if one spouse wants to stay married, the other spouse can unilaterally end the marriage if they meet the state's requirements for a divorce.
Child Support and Child Custody in Out-of-State Divorces
When a divorce involves child support and child custody, an out-of-state divorce may not have jurisdiction over the child issues. Child support and child custody may have to be determined by the family court in the state where the children live. The out-of-state divorce may still be valid but the out-of-state court may not be able to make child custody or visitation decisions. Talk to your family law attorney about how an out-of-state divorce could affect child support and child custody.
Why File for Divorce in Another State?
There are a couple of reasons why a spouse may file for divorce in another state. In most cases, a spouse files for divorce in the state they are living because that is where they can file for divorce. However, in some cases, a spouse may move to another state for the purposes of taking advantage of that state's divorce laws.
Each state has different laws on divorce. This includes differences in how the state and the courts handle all aspects of a divorce, including:
- Residency Requirements
- Grounds for Divorce
- Alimony (Spousal Support)
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Property Division
Historically, a spouse had to show cause why a divorce should be granted. This included the valid grounds for divorce such as adultery, abandonment, or cruelty. However, now all states in the U.S. are considered “no-fault” states for divorce, including North Carolina. There is now no need to show spousal misconduct to get a divorce.
Residency Requirement for Filing for Divorce
Each state has its own residency requirements for filing for a divorce. In order to file for a divorce, either spouse must meet the state's residency requirements. In North Carolina, either spouse must have resided in the state for a period of 6 months or more to file for a divorce.
Residency requirements vary widely by state, from about 365 days to 0 days. Residency requirements also vary based on whether both spouses live in the same state, county residency, and whether a spouse has any ties to the state.
If a spouse was in a hurry to get a divorce, that spouse could move to another state with a shorter residency requirement and file for divorce in that state. For example, Washington, Alaska, and South Dakota have no minimum residency requirement. You could file for a divorce in those states immediately after moving to one of those states. If granted, that divorce would be valid against the out-of-state spouse even if that spouse had never set foot in those states.
Can a Divorce Be Filed in Two States?
A divorce can be granted on the application of either party. This means that if spouses live in different states, each one could file for divorce in their state. This could mean there are two divorces proceeding at the same time. However, only one state can issue a final divorce. As soon as the first state issues a final divorce, the other proceeding will no longer be valid.
Jerkins Family Law
If your spouse filed for divorce in another state or you have questions about filing for divorce in North Carolina or another state, Jerkins Family Law is here to help. We will represent your best interests in a divorce and make sure you are not taken advantage of. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jerkins Family Law is committed to helping our clients in their time of need. Contact us today and see how we can help you and your family.