Divorce Residency FAQ's

Most states have minimum state residency requirements before you file your divorce or dissolution of marriage papers. The required length of time varies per state. It's usually at least six months in most states.

The court that handles the initial divorce settlement will have jurisdiction over all other issues. These include child custody, child support, and any amendments to these arrangements.

The chart below provides the required duration of divorce residency. We also answer your divorce residency FAQs.

Explore the residency rules in your state to get started. But the rules in your area may be more complicated. For help understanding how these requirements impact your situation, it may help to speak with an attorney.

Divorce Residency Requirement by State

State

Residency requirement(s); Statute

Alabama

Six months; Alabama Code Title 30. Marital and Domestic Relations § 30-2-5

Alaska

No time requirement if the filing spouse is a resident and intends to stay; Alaska Statutes Title 25. Marital and Domestic Relations § 25.24.080

Arizona

90 days; Arizona Revised Statutes Title 25. Marital and Domestic Relations § 25-312

Arkansas

60 days; Arkansas Code Title 9. Family Law § 9-12-307

California

Six months in the state, three months in the county; California Family Code - FAM § 2320

Colorado

91 days; Colorado Revised Statutes Title 14. Domestic Matters § 14-10-106

Connecticut

One party has lived in the state for 12 months, or one party lived there at the time of marriage and returns before filing a divorce complaint, or the cause for divorce arose after one party moved to Connecticut; Connecticut General Statutes Title 46B. Family Law § 46b-44

Delaware

Six months; Delaware Code Title 13. Domestic Relations § 1504

District of Columbia

Six months and the parties must be separated without cohabitation for six months if the separation is agreed upon; One-year separation without cohabitation if only one party agrees; District of Columbia Code Division II. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure § 16-902

Florida

Six months; Florida Statutes Title VI. Civil Practice and Procedure § 61.021

Georgia

Six months; a non-resident can file within the state if the other party has lived there for six months; Georgia Code Title 19. Domestic Relations § 19-5-2

Hawaii

Three months; Hawaii Revised Statutes Division 3. Property; Family § 580-1

Idaho

Six full weeks; Idaho Statutes Title 32. Domestic Relations § 32-701

Illinois

90 days; Illinois Statutes Chapter 750. Families § 5/401

Indiana

Six months in the state and three months in the county; Indiana Code Title 31. Family Law and Juvenile Law § 31-15-2-6

Iowa

12 months or one year; Iowa Code Title XV. Judicial Branch and Judicial Procedures [Chs. 595-686] § 598.5

Kansas

60 days; Kansas Statutes Chapter 23. Kansas Family Law Code-Revised § 23-2703

Kentucky

180 days; Kentucky Revised Statutes Title XXXV. Domestic Relations § 403.140

Louisiana

Six months; Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Tit. I, Art. 10

Maine

Six months; Maine Revised Statutes Title 19-A. Domestic Relations § 901

Maryland

Six months; Maryland Code, Family Law § 7-101

Massachusetts

12 months or one year; Massachusetts General Laws Part II. Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations (Ch. 183-210) Ch. 208, § 5

Michigan

180 days; Michigan Compiled Laws, Chapter 552. Divorce § 552.9

Minnesota

180 Days; Minnesota Statutes Domestic Relations (Ch. 517-519A) § 518.07

Mississippi

Six months; Mississippi Code Title 93. Domestic Relations § 93-5-5

Missouri

90 days; Missouri Revised Statutes Title XXX. Domestic Relations § 452.305

Montana

90 days; Montana Title 40. Family Law § 40-4-104

Nebraska

One year; Nebraska Revised Statutes Chapter 42. Households and Families § 42-349

Nevada

Six weeks; Nevada Revised Statutes Title 11. Domestic Relations § 125.020

New Hampshire

One year; New Hampshire Statutes, Annulment, Divorce and Separation, Section: 458:5

New Jersey

One year, unless adultery is listed as the cause for the divorce, there is no minimum time requirement. New Jersey Statutes Title 2A. Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice 2A § 34-10

New Mexico

Six months; New Mexico Statutes Chapter 40. Domestic Affairs § 40-4-5

New York

No minimum residency if both parties live in the state and the cause for divorce happened in the state; for one spouse in the state, one year, and if married in New York or both parties lived in the state during the marriage or the cause for divorce happened in the state; two years for one spouse who does not meet the other requirements. New York Consolidated Laws, Domestic Relations Law - DOM § 230

North Carolina

Six months in the state, and the parties have been separated and living apart for one year; North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 50. Divorce and Alimony § 50-6

North Dakota

Six months; North Dakota Century Code Title 14. Domestic Relations and Persons § 14-05-17

Ohio

Six months; Ohio Revised Code Title XXXI. Domestic Relations Children § 3105.03

Oklahoma

Six months; Oklahoma Statutes Citationized Title 43. Marriage, Divorce and Alimony, Section 102

Oregon

Six months for either party if you were not married in the state. There is no minimum requirement if you were married in the state and still reside there. Oregon Revised Statutes Domestic Relations § 107.075

Pennsylvania

Six months for either party; Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23 Pa.C.S.A. Domestic Relations § 3104

Rhode Island

12 months or one year; Rhode Island General Laws Title 15. Domestic Relations § 15-5-12

South Carolina

Three months if both parties reside in the state; one year if one party resides; South Carolina Code of Laws Title 20 - Domestic Relations § 20-3-30

South Dakota

Resident when action is commenced; South Dakota Codified Laws Title 25 - Domestic Relations Chapter 04 - Divorce and Separate Maintenance § 25-4-30

Tennessee

Six months; Tennessee Code Title 36. Domestic Relations § 36-4-104

Texas

Six months in the state, 90 days in the county; Texas Family Code - FAM § 6.301

Utah

Three months; Utah Code Title 30. Husband and Wife § 30-3-1

Vermont

Six months to file, but divorce will not be finalized until one party has resided for one year; Vermont Statutes Title 15. Domestic Relations, § 592

Virginia

Six months; Virginia Code Title 20. Domestic Relations § 20-97

Washington

Resident with no time requirement; Washington Revised Code Title 26. Domestic Relations § 26.09.030

West Virginia

One year; West Virginia Code Chapter 48. Domestic Relations § 48-5-105

Wisconsin

Six months in state and 30 days in the county; Wisconsin Statutes Marriage and Family (Ch. 765 to 770) § 767.301

Wyoming

60 days or the parties were married in the state, and one party has remained a resident; Wyoming Statutes Title 20. Domestic Relations § 20-2-107

Frequently Asked Questions About Residency and Divorce

Knowing the length of residency required for divorce in your state is a good start, but you might still have questions. Below, we've compiled some of the most common questions about residency and divorce.

  • What's the difference between residence and domicile?
  • Can a spouse move to another state or country to file for divorce there?
  • What state has jurisdiction over child custody?
  • What state has jurisdiction over the division of retirement plans and military pensions?
  • If my spouse moves out of state, can I still file for divorce in our marital state?
  • What if I can't find my spouse or don't know their residency?
  • Does divorce residency affect child custody?
  • Divorce residency questions? Get peace of mind with a divorce lawyer

What's the Difference Between Residence and Domicile?

A spouse's presence within a state is important when determining divorce residency. Some states refer to this presence as "residency," while others refer to it as "domicile."

If your state's divorce law requires that the spouse's domicile be that state, they must have a fixed, permanent home there. They must intend to stay. But if your state's divorce law requires a spouse to be a resident in the state, then they must merely be present.

Because of this difference, a person can have several residences. But you only have one domicile. If your state's residency divorce law requires a spouse to be a resident, they'll have to be present in that state for a certain amount of time. Domicile is a stricter standard because you must establish that the state is the spouse's true home.

Courts consider factors such as:

  • Where the individual's family lives
  • Voter registration
  • Possession of a valid driver's license
  • Where they work
  • Location of a registered vehicle

If the spouse files for divorce, but the other spouse doesn't have a presence in that state, courts may still be able to grant the divorce. However, some residual issues, such as property division and child custody, may be out of their control.

Can a Spouse Move to Another State or Country to File for Divorce There?

Yes, as long as that spouse can prove legal residency in that state or country, according to the law. Once granted in one state, all other states will recognize the divorce as valid. That state may not have jurisdiction over other decisions when the other spouse or minor children live in a different state. These include child custody, property divisionalimony, and spousal support. The non-resident spouse can consent to the jurisdiction. This will allow the court to proceed with those other decisions.

What State Has Jurisdiction Over Child Custody?

The home state of the child has custody jurisdiction. In some cases, another state may be able to assert continuing jurisdiction. The state that entered the original order can claim jurisdiction in any custody modification. But one of the parties must remain a resident of the original state.

What State Has Jurisdiction Over the Division of Retirement Plans and Military Pensions?

Whichever state has personal jurisdiction over the retirement plan member may order the plan's division. This usually means the residency or domicile of that member is proven. Courts sometimes rule that the other state has jurisdiction if the plan maintains contact with another state.

All states differ in their treatment of military pensions, so the state you choose can be critical. Research and aim for the state that best serves your needs. Consult a family law attorney to learn how your state handles retirement accounts.

If My Spouse Moves Out of State, Can I Still File for Divorce in Our Marital State?

Yes. As long as you fulfill the divorce residency requirements, you may file in the state in which you live. If possible, try to have your spouse sign the papers before the physical separation. You may want to consider a legal separation agreement before the other spouse moves.

What if I Can't Find My Spouse or Don't Know Their Residency?

If you can't find your spouse, you can file a missing spouse divorce. Don't let the fact that you don't know where your spouse is stop you from getting a divorce. Show the court that you made a diligent effort to find them. You can get permission to serve your spouse via service by publication. This usually means running a newspaper ad.

Complete all your divorce papers, file them in family court, and serve the papers. If your spouse still doesn't respond or appear, then the court can issue a default divorce judgment.

Does Divorce Residency Affect Child Custody?

When determining child custody, most courts will use the best interests of the child standard. They'll consider the child's lifestyle and the impact of change on the child. They look at the effects of separation from one of the parents. They consider the ability of the parents to encourage communication with the other parent. The judge may ask the child's preference for custody. The residence of one of the parents can impact any of these things, and the court can consider that.

The judge may set up a visitation schedule specific to parents who live far apart. These types of visitation schedules take into account travel time and inconvenience. They look at school schedules. They might give the non-custodial parent a longer period for visitation, not only on weekends. These schedules also set out who will handle the transportation of the child. Courts often respect arrangements the parents work out together so long as they benefit the child.

If custody arrangements are in place and one of the parents wishes to move a distance away, they must notify the other parent and the court. The court can't restrict the parent from moving, as this would be unconstitutional. However, the court and the parents may need to revisit the custody and visitation arrangement. If one parent has sole custody of the child or has a domestic violence restraining order against the other parent, the court may permit them to move.

Divorce Residency Questions? Get Peace of Mind with a Divorce Lawyer

When it comes to the divorce process, the laws can be fuzzy. If you still have questions or concerns after reading this divorce residency FAQ, please seek help. A divorce lawyer can explain the state laws and set you on the right path. Only an attorney can give you legal advice. Get started today by finding a qualified family law or divorce attorney near you.

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  • You may not need an attorney for a simple divorce with uncontested issues
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Don't Forget About Estate Planning

Divorce is an ideal time to review your beneficiary designations on life insurance, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. You need to change your estate planning forms to reflect any new choices about your personal representative and beneficiaries. You can change your power of attorney if you named your ex-spouse as your agent. Also, change your health care directive to remove them from making your health care decisions.

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