While you may have extenuating circumstances, all states in the U.S. have residency requirements for filing a divorce. This is to prevent spouses from shopping for a state with laws advantageous to their case. However, residency requirements can vary significantly from state to state.

Before filing for divorce in any state, it is imperative you check that state’s residency requirements along with any other notable exceptions or conditions.

Typical Residency Requirements for Divorce

The most typical residency requirement is that one of the spouses live in the state for six months before the filing date. This is usually attested to under penalty of perjury on the initial divorce documents and by showing a driver’s license or other proof of residency.

Many states count being stationed as part of active military duty for purposes of the divorce residency requirement.

Child Custody Complicates Matters

Even if a spouse meets a state’s residency requirement to file for divorce, the courts might not have the authority to address child custody, parenting time, and visitation. Only a child’s home state may make rulings on these issues.

A child’s home state is where a child lives with a parental figure for at least the last six months or since birth if the child is an infant. There are a few exceptions.

Financial Issues

Filing for divorce in a state where neither spouse lived during the marriage may affect property division and spousal support. The judge may not have the necessary authority to issue orders regarding these matters.

What is Venue?

Not only must residency requirements be met, but divorce cases must be filed in the proper venue or court. This is generally the family court in the county where one of the spouses resides. Often there is also a residency requirement for filing in a county though it is shorter than any state residency requirement.

California’s Residency Requirements for Divorce

California requires at least one spouse to be a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing for a divorce. There is also a venue residency requirement. A spouse must live a minimum of three months in the county where they file.

If a spouse has been a California resident for at least six months but not a resident of their county for three months, they can file in the county they previously lived.

What If You Do Not Meet California’s Residency Requirements for Divorce?

If you need a California divorce but do not meet the residency requirements, you can file for a legal separation. A legal separation will allow you and your spouse the opportunity to work out your divorce issues and get a legally enforceable order in place until you meet state residency requirements for a divorce.

Contact an Experienced Attorney in Los Angeles

Learn more about California residency requirements and if you and your spouse qualify for a California divorce by contacting a Los Angeles divorce lawyer from Fernandez & Karney. Our knowledgeable family law attorneys in Los Angeles can meet with you in a confidential setting to discuss either a legal separation or a dissolution of marriage, depending on your situation.

At Fernandez & Karney, we care about you and the impact divorce can have on your family and your future. Meet with one of our professionals to receive practical advice about any divorce need, including spousal support, asset division, child custody, child support, and more.