Can You File for Divorce Anywhere?

by Wayne Thomas

The divorce process is governed entirely by state law. Often, significant differences between states regarding the recognized grounds for divorce and how matters related to custody, property, and spousal support are decided. However, you are not free to simply file in any jurisdiction you choose; you must meet the state specific residency requirements. These laws require you to have some connection with the state before pursuing a divorce action.

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Common Residency Requirements

State laws can vary greatly when it comes to the residency requirement. In some states, including Alabama, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for a set time period, such as six months. Other states, including New York, offer a reduced time period required to establish residency, if the events that led up to the marital breakdown occurred locally. Finally, some states, including Maine, allow you to divorce, if you were married in that state and the filing spouse currently lives in the state, and has done so for any length of time. It is not uncommon for states to have one or more options for satisfying the residency requirement.