How Your State Controls Your Divorce

People enter into divorce proceedings every day. These may sound simple, but there are many factors that need to be considered. If your spouse is bi-coastal or serving in the military, this could affect the jurisdiction. Divorce proceedings are not always regulated by where you currently live. In some cases, jurisdiction is in the state where you lived together or where you have lived for the past six months. Factors like property and children can further complicate the situation.

Why is this the Law?

Jurisdiction laws are in place to keep people from gaming the system. Some states have different laws when it comes to divorce and people move to try and get a more favorable outcome. Child support and custody laws are a prime example, as these are set by each individual state.

Factors of Jurisdiction

There are many things to consider:

  • How the case appears
  • Residence or presence in the state
  • The party's consent
  • Property involved
  • Business affiliations

There are many other factors that can influence jurisdiction for divorce proceedings. The factors may vary depending on how the judge examines the case. Some factors may also override the jurisdiction decision. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, for example, holds more weight in the decision making process.

Am I Able to File in Another State?

After you move, it is possible to dissolve your marriage even if you are no longer residing in the same state as your spouse. The laws may be determined by the state you previously lived in. This can influence the decisions made in regards to custody, child support, alimony and property.

What Can Affect a Divorce Proceeding?

Child Custody

The UCCJEA is considered when determining jurisdiction for a divorce proceeding. This comes into play when one of the spouses moved out of the state within a certain time frame. The court will usually follow jurisdiction for the state the child lived in consecutively for the past six months.

Child Support

Child support guidelines vary greatly depending on the state you are in. Jurisdiction will enforce these guidelines unless there are extenuating circumstances that state otherwise. Most agencies will work with parents during the proceedings in the best interest of the child. The agencies want to ensure that the child has the support they need, regardless of the state the parent is in.


Alimony may also be affected depending on which state your spouse is in. Typically, jurisdiction is based on the state where the person resided for the past six months. Some situations, such as temporary relocation, can affect this. The jurisdiction for alimony may be different than the state that has jurisdiction over child support or custody.

Extenuating Circumstances

Some proceedings will require special considerations with jurisdiction. The divorce may be filed in a state that doesn't have proper jurisdiction. This can make the further proceedings difficult.

Speaking with an experienced divorce attorney is often recommended when people are filing in another state. Experience attorneys can get you the information that you need in order to help you file correctly. Representing yourself can lead to incorrect filing or accidently breaking the law. Divorce proceedings are very complex and attorney can help protect your best interests.

Talk to an experienced attorney that can help you understand the situation you are in. You should feel like you are in control of your divorce proceedings and be informed every step of the way. A qualified attorney can help you analyze your divorce proceedings and help you make decisions that can impact your future. If you are filing for your divorce out of state, talk to a local attorney for more information about jurisdictional divorce complications.

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