Typically, you file for divorce in the state where both you and your spouse live. It is only necessary to choose between states if the spouses to be divorced live in separate states. When faced with such a choice, there are some things to keep in mind.
Either State Can Issue a Divorce Decree
So long as one spouse lives in a state, a court of that state can issue a divorce decree. Either the resident or the non-resident can file the case. But, different states have different residency requirements for divorce purposes. In Utah, the residency requirement is three months in the same county.
One state’s Divorce Decree Might Address More Issues than Another State’s Divorce Decree
Most people imagine child support, custody, alimony, and property division as natural elements of a divorce decree. That assumption is not wrong. If applicable to the divorcing spouses, those issues must be worked out because of the divorce. And, the divorce decree is where that typically happens. However, each of those elements comes with its own jurisdiction and residency requirements. These requirements are not necessarily the same and do not work in the same way.
Before making orders on those issues, the divorce court must have jurisdiction. If you file for divorce where jurisdiction or residency is limited, you may find yourself with a limited divorce decree.
Take as an example a husband who moves to a new state and files for divorce. The new state can issue a divorce decree. But if the children are still at home with the wife, the new state will not make a custody decision. Alternatively, a wife might move with the children to a new state. The new state will issue a divorce decree. And, if additional requirements are met, the new state might issue custody orders. But, the new state will not award alimony unless the husband cooperates.
The Decision Can Be Complicated
Typically, it makes the most sense to file for divorce where the court can address the most issues. But your situation might be different. And, determining what court can address what issues can be complicated. At Christensen Law, we can help work through the analysis and options to see if filing your case in Utah is best for you. Additionally, at Christensen Law, we can help you if your spouse has already filed in Utah. Even when a case is already filed, it may be necessary to address jurisdictional issues.