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Filing for Divorce when Your Spouse Lives in Another State


Although most people associate divorce with stress, confusion, and even conflict, these are not the only complicated issues that couples face when dissolving their marriage. In addition to these hurdles, the parties must also comply with the strict procedural requirements that dictate what steps must be taken before a divorce will be granted. Many couples are unaware of what types of technical forms must be completed when petitioning the court for divorce or the vast amount of documentation that must be provided. There are also a number of guidelines and rules regarding deadlines with which couples must comply or risk having their case rejected by the court.

These rules are especially important when a divorce involves two spouses who don’t live in the same state, as strict steps must be taken to ensure that both parties are aware of their rights and obligations, which can be difficult to do across state lines. Fortunately, experienced divorce attorneys are familiar with the procedural rules required during a divorce, so if you are considering filing for divorce and your partner lives out of state, you should strongly consider speaking with a lawyer who can advise you.

Residency Requirements  

Close proximity eliminates a significant number of procedural issues and also makes it easier to coordinate hearings and engage in settlement negotiations. Unfortunately, one spouse’s living arrangements may make it impossible to avoid these problems, in which case, the parties will need to adapt. For instance, it will be especially important for one of the parties to definitively prove that they have been a resident of the state for at least six months. Otherwise, the Florida family courts will not hear a petition for divorce at all.

Limited Jurisdiction  

Even when the residency requirement is met, a court may only have jurisdiction over certain divorce-related issues. This means that even if one party is a permanent resident of the state, a court may only have authority to rule on the divorce itself if the other spouse lives somewhere else, in which case, it would not be permitted to resolve issues related to the division of marital property, child custody arrangements, visitation, alimony, and child support. In some cases, these issues must be decided in the state where the couple last lived together or where the property in question is actually located. Similarly, courts usually don’t have jurisdiction over matters involving a child’s interests unless that child’s home state is also Florida, which could require a showing that:

  • The child lived in the state for the last six months;
  • The child has the most connections to the state; and
  • There is evidence that the child’s care and personal relationships are all rooted in Florida.

Whether a child’s home state is deemed to be Florida will dictate whether a family court has authority to establish and enforce a parenting plan.

Filing for Divorce 

Although divorce petitions are usually only filed by one spouse, it is possible for two spouses to file for divorce in different states. If both parties are able to satisfy the residency requirements of their respective states, then the divorce will be initiated in the state where the petitioner who filed first lives.

Contact Our Legal Team Today  

Please call 954-945-7591 to speak with Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. about the requirements of filing for divorce.



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