After you’ve decided to divorce from your ex-spouse you may decide you want to move states to get a fresh start. Wondering if you can leave the state before filing for divorce? Or if it would be better if you waited for the divorce to be finalized before moving? Here are some answers for you!
Before a state can grant a divorce, it needs to establish jurisdiction over both spouses. Jurisdiction gives the state a right to decide issues between the two spouses. The petition/complaint that is filed when you “file for divorce” attests to the fact that you meet requirements of residency. This agreement gives the state jurisdiction of you. And when you serve your soon to be ex-spouse with a copy of the petition/complaint, the state also gains jurisdiction over him or her. Once this jurisdiction is established you can leave the state – either temporarily or permanently. The exception to this is if you have children.
California Residency Requirement
You must meet a state’s particular residency requirement at the time you file a complaint/petition for divorce. In California a judgment of dissolution of marriage cannot be entered into unless one of the spouses has been a resident of the state for six months, and of the county in which the proceeding is filed for three months, prior to the filing of the petition. For the purpose of dissolution of marriage, the husband and wife may each have a separate domicile or residence, depending upon proof of the fact and not upon legal presumptions.
The exact time period depends on individual state laws; however the time must usually be continuous. So if you are living in a state that has a three-month requirement, you are not able to live there for two months, leave for a month, then return for a month, and then file for divorce. But once you have already filed, stating your requirements of residency, jurisdiction requirements over you are satisfied. That means you don’t have to stay once the paperwork is filed.
It’s important to remember that most divorces usually involve court appearances. Some states might also require that mediation has happened in an effort to resolve issues prior to filing. You’ll want to avoid having to return to the state in which you’ve filed to finalize your divorce. So if it’s a fairly straight-forward divorce, you might consider staying in the state until it’s finalized.
Source: Legal Zoom, Leaving the State After Filing for Divorce, 2014
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