How to Divorce a Wife That Left the State

By Anna Green

When a wife has left the state, it is still possible to file for divorce. Often, a couple may file for divorce in either spouse's state of residence. That said, most states have length of residency requirements, so if your wife recently moved, you may need to file for divorce in your home state. Further, although you may have the choice of where to file for divorce, consider logistical factors when choosing a jurisdiction. For example, choosing your wife’s state of residence may be costly and inconvenient in contested cases where the court will need to hold a trial.

When a wife has left the state, it is still possible to file for divorce. Often, a couple may file for divorce in either spouse's state of residence. That said, most states have length of residency requirements, so if your wife recently moved, you may need to file for divorce in your home state. Further, although you may have the choice of where to file for divorce, consider logistical factors when choosing a jurisdiction. For example, choosing your wife’s state of residence may be costly and inconvenient in contested cases where the court will need to hold a trial.

Petition Requirements

Regardless of whether you choose to file for divorce in your wife's new state or your home state, you will generally need to prepare a petition to begin the divorce process. The exact requirements for a divorce petition vary from state to state, but in most jurisdictions, a petition must list both spouses’ names, dates of birth, information about children and all parties' addresses. Further, the petition will usually need to include your date and location of marriage, and reasons for filing for divorce. Although each state has different grounds under which a spouse may file for divorce, all states have some type of no-fault divorce. This means a couple can divorce without alleging that either party committed any wrongdoing, such as adultery or abandonment. That said, in some states, a spouse is able to file for divorce by reason of abandonment, adultery or other wrongful act. Before preparing a petition, verify what grounds for divorce your chosen jurisdiction allows.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Filing the Petition

Whether you file for divorce in your home state or your wife’s new state, you will need to file a copy of the divorce petition and proof of service with the court clerk. Each court has its own filing requirements, however. If you choose to file in your wife’s jurisdiction, you may be able to file the petition by mail and pay the filing fee either by money order or via the court clerk’s website. If you file in your home state, then generally, you can file the paperwork with the court either in person or by mail.

Service of Process

After preparing the divorce petition, you will typically need to serve your wife with the divorce papers. Each state makes its own rules, but many jurisdictions will allow a party to serve an out-of-state spouse by certified mail. Alternatively, in many instances, a husband may retain a process server in the wife’s new state, mail the petition to the process server and have the document hand-delivered. A court clerk, divorce attorney or legal aid service can help you determine what methods of service are permitted by the state where you are filing your paperwork.

Locating a Missing Spouse

If you do not know your spouse’s new address or whereabouts, it is still possible to file for divorce, but it will generally prolong the process. In some states, you can petition the court to serve your wife divorce papers using alternate procedures. For example, alternative service may include publishing notice of the divorce in the newspaper. Alternative service options vary from state to state, however, and may not be approved until you have exhausted all other efforts to locate your spouse.

Procedural Issues

After you file your paperwork with the court, you will receive a hearing date. If your wife agrees to the divorce, however, the court may be able to grant your divorce without a hearing. If your wife objects to the divorce, the case will likely go to trial. During the trial, both you and your wife will have an opportunity to submit evidence and present the judge with your respective arguments and counter-arguments.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Divorce Without Two Signers

References

Resources

Related articles

What if My Wife Doesn't Accept the Divorce Notice?

A husband filing for divorce must give notice of the legal proceeding to his wife. Generally, personal notice is required; however, if his wife does not accept the divorce notice, the divorce can still proceed. Courts allow other ways for the husband to satisfy the notification requirement, usually through alternate service. The same rules of service apply regardless of which spouse, husband or wife, is filing for divorce.

How to Serve Military Personnel With Divorce Papers

Military courts cannot grant divorces, so military couples must get divorced in state courts following the same basic process that civilians follow. However, divorces involving service members can have additional obstacles because of the nature of military service. For example, it can be tricky to find a way to serve your military spouse if he is overseas or on a military base.

How to Divorce an Unwilling Spouse

If you want to get a divorce but your spouse does not, you may be able to dissolve the marriage anyway. A contested divorce can be complicated and time-consuming. Unlike a divorce in which both parties agree to end the marriage, a contested divorce generally requires you to attend a trial in front of a judge and argue why your marriage should be dissolved. As you proceed with your divorce, remember that the divorce laws and procedures for divorcing an unwilling spouse vary from state to state.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Divorce & Jurisdiction

State laws vary when it comes to obtaining a divorce, so it may be tempting to file for divorce in the state with the ...

How Does a Spouse Get Served for a Divorce in Broward County?

After you file a divorce petition in Broward County, Florida, you must provide your spouse with a copy of the filed ...

I Am in North Carolina & My Wife Is in California: Can I Still Get a Divorce?

When you live in North Carolina and your wife lives in California, you can still get a divorce. However, certain ...

How to File for a Divorce When the Other Party Is Not Available in Pennsylvania

If you are seeking a divorce in Pennsylvania, but are unable to locate your spouse, you must follow the state’s ...

Browse by category