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How to Divorce Someone Who Lives in Another State

by Megan Selin

Getting a divorce is a difficult time in a person's life. Along with the emotional stress, there is often times stress and confusion about how the divorce process works. Many factors must be taken into account when filing for a divorce, including the separation of joint property, custody arrangements, child support and alimony. Filing for a divorce can become even more complicated when one spouse has moved out of state. The steps below will outline the necessary steps to follow when filing for a divorce against someone who lives in a different state.

Determine whether you or your spouse meet the residency requirements for the states in which you live. Residency requirements vary between states. If both of you meet the residency requirements, the divorce can be filed in either state. If only one of you meets the residency requirements, the divorce must be filed in the state where residency is granted. The divorce will be recognized by all states.

Obtain jurisdiction over the non-filing party who resides out of state. The court may obtain jurisdiction by officially serving the non-filing spouse with divorce papers in person, or having the non-filing spouse consent to jurisdiction. This can be accomplished by appearing in a court of that state, signing an affidavit confirming that they have been served or abiding by court rulings. If the non-filing spouse cannot be located, some states will allow notice by publication. Determine whether or not your state allows this by contacting the court clerk or your attorney.

Find a lawyer licensed to practice law in the state where the divorce is being filed. Even if you and your spouse agree to the terms of a divorce, it is a good idea to consult with a family lawyer throughout the process.

Verify where the divorce petition needs to be filed. In most states, the petition will be filed with the superior or circuit court that resides over your district. Contact your attorney or your local court clerk to confirm where the petition needs to be filed.

Decide what type of divorce for which you are filing. In some cases, one person is responsible for the dissolution of the marriage and the couple files for a grounds divorce. In others, couples elect to file a no-fault divorce, which is often cited as "irreconcilable differences."

File for a temporary custody and support agreement if children are involved. This will be filed in the same state where the divorce is being filed.

Follow the service-of-process requirements for the state in which you are filing. This will provide you with proof that a copy of the divorce papers have been served to your spouse and his or her attorney, if appropriate.

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