Can I File For Divorce In My State

By Staff Writer

If you are considering a divorce, you most likely have asked yourself if you can file for divorce in your State and, if so, where can you file. Each State has different grounds for divorce. Grounds are legal requirements that must be met in order to convince the Court that you are entitled to divorce. Some States are known as "no fault" States. In "no fault" states, you do not have to show that your spouse caused the breakdown of your marriage. Rather, you can obtain a divorce simply because you no longer wish to be married. In other States, however, you do have to prove fault. The ground requirements for every State can be found on the State pages at: State Archives.

Although many States do have "No Fault" grounds for divorce, fault is still often an issue in divorce in those States.  Why?  Because there is money in dispute and fault can change how a Court awards or divides money.  In very simple terms, fault can be used by some Courts to determine how property is divided.  If one spouse is at fault, they might get less property.  Fault can also be a factor in a spousal support or alimony decision.  As a result, even though many States allow "No Fault" divorce, fault will still be litigated in those states for monetary reasons.  The more money at stake, the more likely that the issue of fault will be leveraged to impact the monetary decisions of the Court.

In addition to satisfying the fault or no-fault grounds requirements of your particular State, you must also show the Court that it has Jurisdiction or the authority to hear your case. Every Court has certain powers. Among those powers is the right to hear cases. Different Courts have different powers. For example, a local Traffic Court cannot decide Child Support. It does not have the Jurisdiction or power to try that type of case. In some States, more than one Court has jurisdiction to decide the same issues. 

In addition to the Jurisdiction or power to hear a Divorce case, the Court must also have Jurisdiction or power over the parties to the Divorce action. In general, all States have the Jurisdiction over its State residents. Individuals who live outside of the State, however, may also be subject to that State’s Jurisdiction. If you or your spouse live outside of State where you would like to file for divorce, you should properly consult with an attorney to determine if that State has Jurisdiction or the power to make decisions about your case.

All States also have what are known as residency requirements which must be met before that State can decide a Divorce case. In general, residence requirements are a set of rules detailing how long a party must reside in that State before they can file for a divorce.  You can go to the State Archives link above to determine the residency requirements in your State.