Couples will always break up in unique ways, but typically there will be a point in which a married couple will separate and live apart prior to completing their divorce settlement. When a separated couple lives in different states, the divorce settlement process can become somewhat more complicated. You just see the divorce spouse blog.

On this page, we’re going to discuss all the details you need to understand when it comes to this type of divorce filing, and by going through this information you’ll be in a much more informed position to properly handle your divorce process.

Richard M. Renkin is an experienced California divorce attorney and certified family law specialist who has been helping families since 1991. Mr. Renkin’s expertise in these types of convoluted divorce settlements involving an out-of-state spouse goes a very long way in terms of ensuring that his clients always get their most favorable divorce outcomes. 

Contact our offices today for a free consultation or call us at 619-299-7100 so we can get a thorough understanding of your situation and begin initiating the necessary steps we’ll have to take in order to successfully file your divorce with your spouse in another state.


Jurisdiction within divorce proceedings essentially represents a state court’s authority over a couple’s marriage, and each state has unique jurisdiction rules that must be abided by.

An example would be if a married couple lives in California, an Ohio court wouldn’t have authorized jurisdiction to preside over their divorce proceedings. But if one spouse lives in California and the other in Ohio, both state’s laws will determine the parameters around when and how a spouse can initiate a divorce filing. 

Residency Requirements

It’s important to understand that you’ll not be required to return to the state in which your marriage license was issued in order to properly file for divorce, but what you’ll have to do is file within the states in which you or your spouse meet certain residency requirements.

Each state has unique residency requirements that stipulate how long a spouse must live within the state before they are legally capable of filing for divorce. In California, the residency requirements are that a spouse must live here for at least six months and at least three months in the specific county in which the divorce is to be filed in order to authorize the state’s jurisdiction.

Even if both spouses are lifelong California residents but move to different counties, they’ll have to wait at least three months in their new county of residence prior to filing for divorce. You’ll need to ensure that you’re properly prepared to provide evidence of your residency in this type of situation, which means being able to provide the court with a copy of your lease, your driver’s license or voter registration. 

First to File

When both spouses meet their current state’s residency requirements, then there will be two eligible states that have jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings. This means that the state in which the divorce is first filed will undertake the jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings.

An example of this would be a couple having their Texas divorce proceedings dismissed because one spouse filed for divorce in California before the divorce was filed in Texas. 

Providing Notice

It’s very crucial that you provide notice in some form to your spouse regarding your divorce petition. One of the best ways to establish notice when your spouse lives in another state is to have them “served”. This means that a sheriff, process server, or some other qualified person will provide your spouse with the necessary documentation pertaining to your divorce petition.

You could always send these documents via certified mail or other means, but ensuring that notice has been properly provided is so crucial because if it’s deemed to not have been properly provided the entire divorce can be deemed invalid. 

Divorce Process

Once a divorce has been officially filed and your out-of-state spouse has been properly notified, the actual divorce proceedings will be similar to if both of you lived in the same state.

Your divorce petition will be served to your out-of-state spouse, who will then have the opportunity to legally respond to the petition. The odds are that your spouse in another state will hire an attorney within the state that the divorce was filed because this will provide them with the best opportunity to contest the divorce.

The out-of-state spouse will also have to handle their own travel expenses to your local courthouse if they are trying to participate in hearings and a potential trial. 

Differences in State Laws

If your divorce case is rather straightforward and both spouses have a mutual agreement for the overall material terms of the divorce, then it may not matter too much in terms of which state the filing occurred.

However, state laws can make a big difference in a divorce proceeding in terms of some common issues, including child custody, spousal support, child support and the division of property. All states will have different child support formulas that determine how much one spouse will pay another.

Also it’s important to know that there are some states that consider marital property as community property, which means the property will be split 50/50 automatically, whereas many other states will utilize an approach that pushes for equitable distribution.

Full Faith and Credit

The Full Faith and Credit Clause within the Constitution asserts that courts must honor any divorce proceeding that is granted within another state because states must always honor any court orders that come from other states.

But you must abide by all of the above stipulations in order for a different state to honor your divorce petition!

Speak with a California Divorce Attorney in Confidence

If you are beginning the initial stages of your divorce petition with an out-of-state spouse, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation so we can better understand your situation and begin devising the very best legal strategy available to you.

Reach out to us online or call 619-299-7100 to request an appointment with California divorce attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist Richard M. Renkin.

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