Thursday, June 7, 2007

How to Decide Where to File for Divorce When the Spouses Live in Two Different States

Divorce and family law help by lawyers serving the Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet and Riverside areas of Riverside County, California.

Normally, when a couple gets a divorce, they live in the same county and same state as one another. Deciding where the divorce matter should be filed in just a matter of determining where the local courthouse is located. In the Temecula Valley, the family law courthouse is located in Hemet, California. In Riverside, it is located at the family law court in Riverside, Cal.

For a party to file a divorce in a particular county, one of the parties must have lived in that county for at least three months. This is called venue.

For instance, a couple separates. While living together, they both lived in Riverside County for three months before the separation. The wife then moves to Los Angeles County. If wife lives in Los Angeles County for less than three months before the divorce case if filed, the divorce must be filed in Riverside County. If wife lives in Los Angeles County for more than three months before the divorce is filed, the divorce can be filed in either Los Angeles or Riverside County. Either county would be proper, and the person who filed the divorce first would be able to choose which county the divorce was filed in.

Things become even more complicated when the parties live in different states. In order for a case to be filed in California, one of the parties must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing the divorce. This is called residency.

For instance, a couple separates. Before they separate, both parties lived in the state of California for at least six months. Upon separation, wife moves out of California. As long as the parties file the divorce action within six months of separation, California is the proper place to hear the matter, and the divorce should be filed in California.

Another common scenario is when the couple previously lived in another state, moves to California, and then separates in California shortly after the move. For instance, the parties had lived in Texas for six months before moving to California. They live in Calif for three months before separating. Both parties remain in Cal. Technically, Texas is the correct state to decide the divorce. However, there are ways to allow Ca to hear the case, and the parties in this type of situation should seek the help of a competent divorce and family law lawyer.

Yet another situation is where the parties live in the state of Calif for six months before separating. Upon separation, wife moves out of California. The parties do not file for a divorce for more than six months. Wife has established legal residency in another state. The proper place to hear this divorce would be in the state of Cal.

Finally, the parties both live in California for more than six months. The parties separate. Wife moves to Texas. Husband moves to Oklahoma. Neither party files for divorce within six months. The parties either have to agree where the divorce will be heard, or the court needs to decided which state should have power over the divorce.

The above rules only apply to situations where the divorce includes the division of property, the award of attorney fees, spousal support, or child support, or involves child custody or visitation. In those rare situations where the only issue before the divorce court is a request to dissolve the marriage and make both parties single again, the state either party lives in can make that order without regard to where the other party lives.

Obviously, when two parties live in different states and are seeking a divorce, the legal issues surrounding where, or even how to file a divorce action are complicated. Please be sure to consult with a competent divorce and family law attorney before taking any action.

If you reside in the Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet or Riverside areas of Riverside County, California, and have questions about this, or any other family law or divorce related issue, please contact our office for a free consultation with one of our lawyers at (951) 816-9543.

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