Deciding to file for divorce is a big step and comes with a lot of decisions and changes. One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is where to file for divorce.
The state and county you file for divorce in can have an impact on your proceedings so it is a good idea to consider all of your options before filing.
Where to File For Divorce
You do not have to go back to the state that issued your marriage license and, in some cases, you may not be eligible to file for divorce in that state. Typically, you will file for divorce in the state and county you live in. Each state has its own divorce laws and residency requirements, so it is important to be familiar with those requirements before filing. If you do not meet the residency requirements, you will not be eligible to file for divorce in that state.
For example, in North Carolina, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing for divorce in the state. Residency requirements range from 0 days in Washington and South Dakota to a year in several states.
When both spouses live in the same state, choosing where to file is clear-cut. But when spouses live in different states or have residency in multiple states, it can get complex.
What if My Spouse and I Live in Different States?
It’s not uncommon for one spouse to move to a different state during the separation period. This can make filing for divorce more complicated, especially if the couple has children or significant assets to divide. There are variations in the way different states treat divorce-related issues, including alimony, child support, child custody and property division.
If you are going through a divorce in which you and your spouse have residency in different states, you have options. If you and your soon-to-be-former spouse agree on the terms of the divorce and pursue an uncontested or amicable divorce, the state you file in will not make a big difference. It’s when spouses can’t agree that it’s beneficial to explore your options.
Where to file for divorce will depend on your situation and the states you and your spouse live in or claim residency in. Before filing, research the divorce laws in the states you believe you are eligible to file in. Some states have laws that may work in your favor.
Does a State Have to Honor a Divorce Filed in Another State?
In most cases, yes. A divorce filed and granted in one state is upheld in all states. This is laid out in the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.
Although court orders are upheld by the Constitution, there are certain situations in which another state may not recognize or honor a divorce granted in another state. For example, if one spouse failed to properly notify the other spouse of the divorce proceedings, another state will not recognize or honor the divorce. In addition, if the filing spouse failed to meet the residency requirement and proceeded with the divorce in their home state, the court in the other spouse’s state can refuse to honor this order.
Need Assistance While Filing for Divorce?
For help filing for divorce in North Carolina, contact The Doyle Law Group. If you’re searching for a divorce attorney in the Raleigh area, make us your number one choice. Call us at or fill out the form below to schedule your consultation.