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Divorce and Marriage Law

Which state has jurisdiction if both parents live in a different state than the divorce was filed?

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July 11, 2009 5:40PM

This is not always a simple answer. It depends on how long each of you have lived in a NEW state. It also depends if you have kids... then you have to consider which state the kids are living and for how long. Usually the old state retains jurisdiction over a divorce for a certain period of time. If the kids have now lived in a new state for a certain period of time or if you are now living in a state for a certain period of time these dates have to be compared to your local laws. The easiest thing is to file where you now live but that may not be possible. So, here is what I would do if I was unsure of the law: 1. Call the family court clerk in the county where you used to live. Find out IF you can still file for a divorce there. His or her answer will give you information about the time that the old state retains jurisdiction over you and/or your child. 2. Call the clerk of the family court in the county where YOU now live (and also the clerk in your ex's county). Both of these people can tell you when each of you has a right to file for divorce in your new state. Most states that I know require a 6 month residency period before they will touch your case. Once you have this information, you can rule out which states DO NOT have jurisdiction over your claim. Interestingly, your ex (or you) might prefer the laws of a certain state, SO FIND THESE DATES OUT ASAP. If you have money to pay a lawyer, you should still find out the above dates on your own as most divorce attorneys are licensed in only one state. The lawyer may legally be able to help you BUT a lawyer in one of the other states MIGHT be able to get you a better result depending on the local laws of each state. Bottom line, do your homework by making 3 phone calls (see above) and then talk w/ lawyer in each of the states to verify your options. If it is CT or RI, you can call me if you have further questions. Atty. James Hall (860) 599 - 4400. Good luck.