If it's time for you and your spouse to split up, where you get divorced might be a factor. You should be divorced in the state where you live, but states have different rules and there are some unique situations that might call for complications. Read on to learn more about meeting residency requirements for divorce.
State Residency Requirements
Almost all states require that you reside in the state for a certain period of time before you can call yourself a legal resident. It's not necessary to get divorced in the same state in which you were married, however. At least one of the parties must have lived in a state for the minimum amount of time to be able to divorce there. In most cases, some form of proof of residency is required, such as a driver's license with a state address, a lease agreement, mortgage paperwork, etc. Each state sets its own rules about residency but there are a few states that have no minimum residency requirement rules. If you live in Alaska, Iowa, Louisiana, South Dakota, or Washington, you can be divorced just by showing current proof of residency.
Two States of Residency
If only one of you meets the residency requirements in your current state, only that party is able to file for divorce. If both parties meet the residency requirements for their current state, the party that files first must abide by that state's divorce rules. Divorce laws can vary quite a bit from state to state and one major difference is whether or not the state uses community property or equitable distribution when it comes to the division of property and debt.
Different Laws and Different Divorce Settlements
The way states look at divorce can be utilized strategically if you know that a certain state's laws are more beneficial to your marital situation. You can either make sure that you file first in your state of residence or you can wait (or encourage) your spouse to file in their own state. For example, if there is a lot of valuable marital property at stake, you might be able to receive half of that property if you file from the state that recognizes community property laws. If you file in an equitable distribution state, you might only be entitled to property you bought with your own funds.
This situation can be more complicated than expected so working with a divorce lawyer becomes even more important. Speak to a lawyer to find out about the preferential state to file in and how it might affect your divorce settlement. For more information, reach out to law firms like the Law Offices of Jamie L. Hazlett & Associates.