Where Do I File My Divorce?

Today it is very common to have to deal with jurisdictional issues when deciding when and where to file a divorce action. Often the parties separate and leave the state in which they were residents and wait months before proceeding with their divorce. This delay allows one party to establish residency in a foreign state and the opportunity to proceed with divorce in that jurisdiction.   

Most states allow this filing and exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident party by long-arm statutes.  These statutes usually require that one party is a resident of the state in which they are filing but may differ in what issues the court has jurisdiction over. This can become a very complicated matter if children are involved, and the home state of the children, the state in which they are residents, will be the proper jurisdiction. This is why it is important to file soon after a spouse leaves if they take the children.The children will still be residents of your state and there may be an issue of emergency for the court to consider immediately.

However, if dealing with other issues of property and spousal support a party may want to consider the benefits of individual jurisdictions with regards to their domestic laws. Obviously, if your spouse moved out of state the first consideration is the cost of the litigation. If you wait until the moving spouse files you will be forced not only to hire an attorney out of state but defend an a action from out of state. Inevitably you will have to travel to the court in that jurisdiction, which can increase the expense dramatically.

If you are not concerned with this expense you may want to consider the benefits of particular rulings in individual courts.  For instance California is a community property state, which means that everything brought into the marriage is divisible and the fact that your spouse had no role in the accumulation of assets is immaterial. In other states the courts look to equity and deal only with that property and assets that were accumulated during the marriage and the equitable contributions of the parties. 

On issues such as alimony and adultery, Georgia law bars the award of alimony for spouses proven to have had an adulterous relationship that is the cause of the divorce. Other states do not make a determination of alimony based on the behavior of the other spouse. Another consideration is that some states have waiting periods before the filing of a divorce. States such as Georgia have no such waiting period but other states can make a couple wait for several months before they can proceed with a divorce. 

As you can see there are multiple issues to consider before filing a divorce against a fleeing spouse and the guidance of an attorney is essential.  

For more information, please contact The Law Offices of Sean R. Whitworth office at (770)-285-0331 or schedule an appointment online.