Divorce Residence Restrictions

by Teo Spengler
To file divorce papers, one spouse must fulfill residency requirements.

To file divorce papers, one spouse must fulfill residency requirements.

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Nevada is famous for allowing couples to marry the same day they arrive in the state; but the residency rules for divorce are stricter. Most states, including Nevada, require that a spouse reside within the state for a certain period of time before filing for divorce. The residency requirements vary widely among jurisdictions.

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Residency Requirements

A state can require that a person establish residency in that jurisdiction before making use of its courts to file for divorce. This limits a divorcing spouse's ability to forum shop, which means to select a state with divorce laws that are advantageous to his circumstances. Most, but not all, states impose residency requirements for divorce.

State Rules Vary Widely

Each state legislature determines appropriate residency periods for filing a divorce in its courts, so the periods vary widely. New York imposes the longest wait. A spouse must live in New York for two years before filing for divorce unless the couple was married in that state or lived there as a married couple. California's six-month wait is more typical. Nevada requires only a six-week delay. According to the American Bar Association, you can file a divorce without any waiting period in Alaska, Iowa, Louisiana, South Dakota and Washington.