Resolving to file for divorce is a momentous decision. Ending a marriage can throw your entire life into upheaval. While any number of factors go into pursuing this course of action, there’s much more to deal with after you make this choice. An entire world of logistical questions awaits out there.
This includes where to file the appropriate paperwork and who has jurisdiction, which can have a substantial impact on what follows.
In addition to filling out and submitting the proper forms, you need to file these documents at the correct location. Laws vary a great deal depending on where you live, and you will want to take pains to make sure that you file for divorce in the right state, county, and even court.
CA State Requirements To File For Divorce
You don’t need to file for divorce in the state where you were married, but you do need to be a legal resident of the state where you file.
Each state has its own specific set of rules and regulations that lay out the requirements for dissolving a marriage. Most demand that you be a resident for a specific amount of time before you can file for divorce. This prevents people from moving from one state to another with more favorable laws.
California has a residency requirement of six months or 180 days.
If you and your spouse live in different states, this also impacts where you file. Depending on the particular states and your specific situation, there may be benefits or detriments to filing in one or the other.
It’s not necessary for both parties to be legal residents in the same state. If the two spouses agree on which region has jurisdiction, the divorce can proceed there.
If you move around frequently, for instance, if you’re a member of the military, figuring out where to file for divorce can be even more problematic. You may want to look at factors like:
- where you vote and pay taxes,
- what state issued your driver’s license,
- and if you qualify for in-state college tuition.
- All of these and more play into establishing residency.
County Requirements To File For Divorce
Beyond state requirements, there may even be regulations that are peculiar to the county where you live. The process to file for divorce can become incredibly specific.
California has local obligations that must be met in addition to state residency. You must live in a particular county for at least three months before you can file for divorce there.
While three months may not seem all that long, it can still lead to complications and delays.
If you and your spouse lived in San Diego county for years, but when you split up and decide to get a divorce, you move to Orange County, you have to wait for the requisite three months before you can file for divorce.
On the other hand, your spouse could file in San Diego immediately, and if the two of you agree on the jurisdiction in that county, you can proceed without delay.
Counties often have their own unique local laws and paperwork you have to fill out to file for divorce. Your county’s court website should have the information you need, but if you are unsure of the regional restrictions, it may be in your best interest to hire an experienced local attorney. They can make sure you file the appropriate forms and meet all of the requirements.
Impact Of Jurisdiction On Your Divorce
Wherever you live, and wherever you plan to file for divorce, make sure that you fully understand the local laws and how they will impact the process. Location can have a big influence on things like division of property.
For instance, courts in some areas may divide a military pension where others will not. That can be huge for both spouses. Splitting up assets in a community property state, like California, will be different than in an equitable distribution state, like Oregon.
On Child Custody
Where you and your spouse file for divorce may also impact things like who has jurisdiction over child custody decisions.
In these cases, unless one state claims continuing control over a particular case, the child’s home state will maintain dominion in these matters. This isn’t the state the child is from necessarily, but the state where he or she resides.
Any modifications to a custody agreement or parenting plan may be handled there, regardless of where the parents live. As in most cases involving minor children, the court will take their best interest into consideration when issuing a decision.
Rules and regulations on how to file for divorce vary so greatly from state to state and even county to county that attention to detail will be important to the process. Do your homework and be thorough to ensure your case isn’t dismissed because of a simple mistake.