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Residency requirements for filing for divorce

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In order to end a troubled marriage, a person may move to another state and attempt to file for divorce there. However, filing for divorce is not as easy as showing up at a random courthouse. With just a few exceptions, a person must be a resident of the state in which they are filing for divorce. Residency requirements vary by state and range from six weeks to a year. In Maryland, the requirement is one year.

For most couples, the residency requirement is simple to understand. But, in a high asset divorce, determining residency can be challenging, as a couple may have homes all throughout the state, or even in multiple states. They might travel to each of these homes several times a year, so which one is considered their legal residence?

The court will look at several factors to determine a couple's true home. Driver's license information and car registration is taken into consideration, as well as voter registration, banking habits and place of employment. Family information is also important, such as where the spouses' families live and where children, if any, attend school. The court will also attempt to determine how properties are used. For example, are they primarily vacation homes?

Divorce is stressful enough when both parties live in the same state. Once a spouse moves to another state or even another country, the laws can get complicated. This is especially true if the other spouse cannot be found or if a child custody issue is involved.

Source: FindLaw, "Divorce Residency FAQ's," accessed April 18, 2015

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