Residency Rules for Filing for Divorce in Ohio

By Beverly Bird

Most states do not allow you to move into their jurisdiction, unpack your bags and immediately file for divorce. There's a good reason for this – "friendly" divorce states would be inundated with spouses flocking there to file, maybe to the point where their court dockets would bog down to a crawl. Most states try to find a middle ground between prohibitive residency rules and no requirements at all, including Ohio.

Most states do not allow you to move into their jurisdiction, unpack your bags and immediately file for divorce. There's a good reason for this – "friendly" divorce states would be inundated with spouses flocking there to file, maybe to the point where their court dockets would bog down to a crawl. Most states try to find a middle ground between prohibitive residency rules and no requirements at all, including Ohio.

State and County Residency

Ohio's residency requirement is six months. You must live in the state this long before you can file for divorce, and the six months must be those that lead up to your filing. You must live in the county where you file for a minimum of 90 days. One exception exists: If your spouse has met residency requirements in the state, you can file in Ohio even if you live elsewhere.

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Jurisdictional Issues

Even if you meet Ohio's residency requirements, the court may not be able to do much more than grant you a divorce. If your spouse never lived in the state with you, this can limit jurisdiction over him, and the court may not be able to rule on things like asset division or alimony. This is particularly true if the two of you own property in the state where your spouse is currently living, such as if you were married there and moved to Ohio when you broke up. Ohio may not be able to rule on custody unless your children have also resided in the state for six months.

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Can a Woman Go to Illinois & Divorce Her Husband in California?

References

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Residency Requirements for Divorce

Before a state court can grant you a divorce, it must have jurisdiction to rule on your issues. This means you or your spouse must meet its residency requirements. It usually doesn't matter if you both live there, or only you do – if you file in a state where you've established residency, the court has the power to make decisions that involve your spouse as well.

Can a Divorce Be Pending in Two States?

It is possible for a divorce to be pending in two states at once. This can occur when a husband and wife live in separate states and each of them files for divorce in their home state at around the same time. When a divorce is pending in two states, it complicates the process and can extend the length of time it takes for the divorce to finalize. Also, even though a divorce can be pending in two states, only one state can issue the final divorce judgment and this would terminate the case in the other state.

What Determines the State You Get Divorced In?

Typically, you file for divorce in the jurisdiction where you currently reside. Most states, with the exception of South Dakota and Washington, require that you be a resident of the state for a certain length of time before you file for divorce. This length of time varies by state. South Dakota and Washington simply require that you be a "resident" without specifying a length of time you need to live there first. If your situation is complex and you are unsure about where to file for divorce, consult an attorney experienced in family law.

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