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The Challenges Of Divorcing In A Foreign State

You probably know that you don't have to divorce in the state in which you were married; you can divorce in a foreign state. However, divorcing in a foreign state has its challenges, and you should be aware of them before submitting your petition. Here are three of the most important issues to know:

Residency Is Required

One of the first things you will need to prove is that one of you is a resident of the state in which you wish to file your divorce forms. This might not be a problem if you wish to divorce in Arkansas because you only need to live in the state for 60 days before you can file for divorce. However, other states such as Iowa and Louisiana have one-year residency requirements, so you will hit a snag if you only moved recently.

You Must Use the Same Court for Amendments

Divorce decrees are seldom final; even if you think you have hit the sweet spot where both of you agree on issues such as child custody and alimony, these issues may change with time. If this happens, and you wish to seek a modification, you have to go back to the jurisdiction that issued the divorce.

The travel and accommodation expenses can be overwhelming, especially if the modification motions take a long time. Of course, this might not be a big issue if you divorced in Nevada, but now live in California (you just crossed the border), but it can be very expensive if you divorced in Arizona and now live in New York.

Your State Must Gain Jurisdiction Over Your Spouse

Just because your state has jurisdiction over you doesn't mean that it has jurisdiction over your spouse. If your spouse doesn't meet the residency requirements of your state, then the state cannot decide and enforce important issues such as child support and asset division.

Your current state gains jurisdiction over your spouse if:

  • You serve him or her (in-person) with the divorce petition
  • He or she agrees to the jurisdiction; for example, by showing up in court or signing an affidavit

Do not make any assumption if you are planning to divorce in a foreign state. States have different laws on child support, property division, custody and many other important issues. Therefore, what may be true for your former state may not hold true for your current one. Therefore, consult your attorney like one from Harold Salant Strassfield & Spielberg widely before making any decision.