It’s not uncommon for divorcing spouses to want to get farther away from each other, sometimes even going so far as to move to different states. Divorcing while living in different states shouldn’t be a problem. However, certain rules must be followed in order for the marital dissolution to be valid.
The first order of business is to look at what state the divorce has been filed in. If you and your spouse have been living together in the same state, filing requirements may be easier, but each state has its own requirements pertaining to residency. If one of the spouses has moved to another state before the divorce was filed, the requirements need to be looked at closely as some states may have a requirement that mandates that a person must have lived in the state for at least six months in order to file for divorce in that state. Other states may specify a different time frame. In fact, this is usually the case with most states. Some states may even require that a person live there for a year before becoming a resident.
The residency requirements must be met before filing for a divorce petition in that state. If the spouses are already living in different states, each state can have jurisdiction over the divorce and hear the case in a local court. Jurisdiction means that a state has authority over the divorce proceedings. Spouses do not have to return to the state they were married in and where the marriage license was actually issued. However, if the spouses live in different states, both states technically have jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings.
Who Files First?
Proceedings will take place in the state in which the divorce was filed. Each party may need to attend the court dates regardless of which state it is in or if he or she has already moved out of state. This being the case, it would benefit the spouse who files the divorce papers first as that means the divorce proceedings will take place in his or her state. Because travel arrangements can be expensive and time-consuming, it usually behooves the spouse who files first to make quick filing arrangements.
Help Where Needed
Working with a divorce lawyer is the best way to ensure that the divorce goes smoothly. If the spouses are still on mutually good terms, they may compromise on travel arrangements or other details. Also, if the couple is agreeing on most things without a battle ensuing, it could mean that the proceedings won’t have to take place inside the courtroom other than the judge approving a settlement agreement that the couple has negotiated or has reached after participating in mediation sessions.
Things a Couple May Agree On
- Custody and visitation of minor children
- What to do with the family home
- Who gets to keep the pet
- The division of assets obtained during the marriage
The more things that the couple agrees on, the faster the proceedings will be, and future travel expenses could e avoided. Sometimes, the spouses live in different but neighboring states. In this case, it may be easier to participate in mediation sessions and attend court appearances.
A divorce lawyer can often play a leading role in the negotiation of a comprehensive settlement agreement. It’s also important to have an attorney that is fair, knowledgeable and able to provide assistance when needed. Feeling as if your lawyer understands what you’re going through is also preferable. Divorces are not an easy time for most people, and having a trusted advisor and attorney can help you feel more confident and relaxed.
If you’re looking for compassionate legal advice and assistance, call the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner at (215) 886-1266. We have over 25 years of experience in Pennsylvania family law, and our office is located in Jenkintown.