How Long Do You Have to Live in a State to File for a Divorce in That State?

By Teo Spengler

State courts only have the authority to regulate disputes that involve their residents, but residency is a fluid concept. Each state determines how long you must reside within that state to file for divorce. The periods vary dramatically, so if you are new to a state, it pays to do your research before you file.

State courts only have the authority to regulate disputes that involve their residents, but residency is a fluid concept. Each state determines how long you must reside within that state to file for divorce. The periods vary dramatically, so if you are new to a state, it pays to do your research before you file.

Residency Requirements

Residency is a term of art in the law, and its definition varies among jurisdictions. In some states, for some purposes, your intent controls. For example, in California, residency is defined as an intent to live or be located in California on "more than a temporary or transient basis."

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Residency for Filing for Divorce

Every state sets out in its statutes some period of residency before a couple can divorce in its courts. These range from weeks to years. Generally, if one spouse fulfills the residency requirements, either spouse can file a petition for divorce in that state.

Examples of State Residency Requirements

Nevada requires six weeks' residence before a couple can file for divorce, while California statutes require six months. New York mandates continuous physical presence for two years immediately before filing a divorce action. If a couple married in New York state or lived there as a married couple, the residency period is one year.

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What Determines the State You Get Divorced In?

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Where Can you File for a Divorce When Your Spouse Resides in Another State?

In most divorces, the separating couple will remain in the same state -- probably even the same county or town. Filing the initial paperwork for a divorce is a straightforward process when the parties live in the same jurisdiction. In some situations, however, one or both spouses move to another state. In these cases, it is important to familiarize yourself with residency requirements before you file for divorce.

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 procedures most friendly to your case. But a court must have proper jurisdiction to address the cases before it, so not every court has authority to grant you a divorce and rule on the issues involved. Generally, you must file in the state where you or your spouse meets residency requirements.

Divorce Residency Requirement for Georgia

Meeting a particular state's legal residency requirements gives the court there the authority to make rulings as part of your divorce action. In legal terms, this authority is called jurisdiction. In most states, two sets of residency rules apply to jurisdiction – one for the spouse who is filing and a separate one for the children. Georgia's laws are no different.

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