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Which State Jurisdiction is Your Divorce In?
Each state has different divorce laws & available resources.
There are many considerations in divorce, and correct steps to take to get a divorce within each state. Find your state for a comprehensive outline about what you’ll encounter during your divorce. Some of the items that are most important include details on residency requirements, fault or no-fault divorce and more.
If you are thinking of divorce, you can take advantage of the differences in state laws. Depending on your unique circumstances, you can avoid specific penalties and enjoy certain benefits provided in some states. Here is an overview of the differences in state divorce laws.
Are you the breadwinner or the stay-at-home spouse?
Equitable Distribution Law
If you are the breadwinner in the marriage, states that observe the equitable distribution law will protect you. Notably, 41 states follow this law.
Assets under an individual spouse’s name are not automatically split on a 50/50 basis. Instead, the judge will use his/her discretion to divide the marital property fairly. The judge makes a decision based on each spouse’s personal assets, contribution, financial needs, income, or earning potential.
Community property law
A breadwinner may not be too lucky in Wisconsin, Washington, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana, Idaho, California, Arizona, and Alaska. These states observe community property law, where marital property is split between the spouses 50/50.
Separate property owned before marriage, inheritance, and gifts are the only assets exempted from the 50/50 split. Everything else acquired during the marriage is considered marital or joint property and must be shared equally upon divorce.
So, have you been earning way more than your spouse during the marriage? You will be better off post-divorce if you reside in the 41 states that go by the equitable distribution law. Well, the judge can decide on 50/50 distribution of marital property, but it is not given. The chances are that you might get to keep most of the riches you acquired.
The stay-at-home spouse
Are you the stay-at-home mum or dad that sacrificed his/her career to take care of the children? You will be better off post-divorce if you meet the residency requirements of the ten states that abide by the community property law. That is because you will be guaranteed of half the wealth that the other spouse acquired during the marriage.
An experienced divorce lawyer will tell you if your state observes the community property law or the equitable distribution law.
Best States to File For a Divorce
The best place to file a divorce will depend on what you want in terms of fees, residency requirements, separation periods, and waiting time.
- In New Hampshire, you can attempt a ‘dare’ marriage today and get divorced tomorrow. There is no minimum residency requirement in this state, and you can simply cross the border and establish your residency that way. Additionally, there is no minimum processing time, and you only pay $180 in filing fees. And interestingly, the state has among the lowest divorce cases.
- Nevada has among the fastest processing time for a divorce, but the fee is a little high, which is $289
- Missouri can grant you divorce in a month, if you have lived in the state for three months, at a fee of $180
Fault divorces are rare but can be necessary when you have an essential point to prove. For instance, they can show that your spouse is a terrible provider or cruel.
- If you are married to an addict, you can file a fault divorce on the grounds of “habitual intemperance” in Idaho. However, the grounds will not impact alimony or the split of assets.
- If you want to divorce a cheating spouse, you may not have to pay alimony in Georgia
- If your spouse deserted you and you don’t know where to find him/her, Maine can grant you divorce after three years. And you’ll only pay $120 in processing fees.
- If your spouse has made murderous attempts, consider filing a divorce in Tennessee.
- If your partner has persistently said no to matrimonial intercourse, a divorce is easily granted in North Dakota.
- If your spouse has suffered from incurable insanity for two years during the marriage, you can file for a divorce in Indiana.
- If your partner became an “idiot” after you got married, you could divorce him/her in Mississippi.
- Wyoming is cheaper to get divorced, but you have to wait for at least 80 days.
- Alaska is among the states with the highest divorce rates, possibly because of its low fee of $150 and a short waiting period of 30 days.
- In South Dakota, the fee is as low as $50
- The waiting time in Utah is 30 days, and in some circumstances, the waiting time can be waved. On the contrary, the minimum waiting time in California is six months.
Other Matters in Divorce State Laws
Suit for damages
In Mississippi and New Mexico, you can sue your spouse’s lover for damages. That is in the case of alienation of affection.
Many courts in Texas cannot finalize your divorce if the wife is pregnant. It doesn’t matter if the pregnancy is not a product of that marriage.
Child support and alimony
Each state has a different method of working out alimony and child support payments. Some are more lenient, while others are stricter. In Texas, it is tough to get alimony, and in California, you may pay up to 10 times in child support.
In Colorado, children under the age of 18 may require to attend a program that will educate them on the possible impacts of divorce or separation.
In Delaware, a couple can only file for a divorce after a six-month separation. You must also attend and complete a Parent Education class if you have children together.
In Rhode Island, you need to be separated for a minimum of 3 years to file for a divorce. However, either or both of you need to have lived in the state for at least a year.
Were you married in another country?
If you got married in another country or state, Hawaii could grant you a divorce.
You must undertake a divorce education before filing for a divorce in Kentucky. It extensively educates the spouses on the impact of parental conflicts on children and teaches them how to respond to their divorce-related concerns.
After divorce, the parties have to wait for at least six months before remarrying in Oklahoma. Similarly, in Wisconsin, you and your spouse are forbidden from remarrying anywhere in the world for six months.
Serving divorce papers
You can only serve divorce papers via the sheriff in Wyoming. In South Dakota, you can serve your spouse via the newspaper.
Clearly, divorce laws vary significantly from state to state. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can help you break down the divorce law in your state and advise you on cross-state divorce. You can also search for state-specific divorce laws here.