Multi-state residency: In which state should you file for divorce?

Jurisdictional issues may sometimes come into play in a divorce. In some cases, it may be possible to file for divorce in multiple states. This can happen, for instance, when a couple moves to a different state and divorces after meeting that state’s residency requirements. It could also happen when a couple has established residency in multiple states while maintaining their permanent residence in one state.

State residency requirements for divorce

Different states have different residency requirements. Some are stricter than others. Those that are stricter usually require that a party be domiciled in the state – meaning they must have a permanent, fixed home within the state and the intention of remaining there. A party can only have one domicile, but it is possible to have multiple residences.

North Carolina requires a party to reside in the state for at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. In addition, the couple must have been separated and residing separately for at least a year prior to filing, unless there are other grounds for divorce – such as adultery, violence, addiction or insanity.

Differences in state laws regarding child custody and property division can make it more favorable for a party to file in one state versus another. Given the differences in state residency laws, timing can play a factor in filing for divorce. Sorting such issues out is not an easy matter. It’s worthwhile to consult with an experienced family law attorney to build the best possible strategy and to get the timing right.

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