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How to Divorce an Out-of-State Spouse

How to Divorce an Out-of-State Spouse

How to Divorce an Out-of-State Spouse

Out-of-State Divorce

If you and your spouse no longer live together and he or she has moved to another state, you can still get a divorce, although it likely will be a little more complicated to obtain than if both of you still lived in the same state. Your wisest course of action is to obtain the advice, counsel, and representation of an experienced local divorce lawyer.


Each state has its own requirements regarding how long you must have lived in the state and county where you plan to file for divorce. Assuming you meet your local residency requirement, you can file your divorce petition.


Keep in mind that the court in which you file has jurisdiction over your marriage and your children, but does not have automatic jurisdiction over your out-of-state spouse. Nor does it have jurisdiction over property located in that or any other state.


To give the court in which you file jurisdiction over your out-of-state spouse, you will need to properly serve him or her with divorce papers. In all likelihood, this will mean contacting the sheriff’s department of the state and county in which your spouse lives or hiring a professional process server located in that state and county. You will send a certified or verified copy of your divorce petition to this person and he or she will, in turn, personally hand it to your spouse, signing the return of service document and sending it back to you, your attorney, or the clerk of the court in which you filed.

In certain circumstances, you may have other notice options, such as sending the documents to your spouse via certified mail or publishing notice of your divorce filing in a newspaper of record for a certain period of time. Again, your local divorce attorney can explain your various notice options to you.

Once served, your spouse can choose to contest the divorce or not. If he or she chooses not to contest, the divorce then proceeds smoothly and your spouse will need to abide by the provisions of the ultimate divorce decree. If he or she chooses to contest the divorce, he or she likely will hire a divorce lawyer, like the attorneys at Robinson & Hadeed, to represent him or her. If so, he or she is responsible for paying his or her own attorney’s fees, as well as paying any travel costs to personally come to court.

Full Faith and Credit

Once the court issues its final divorce decree, your state, your spouse’s state, and all other states must honor it per the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution.

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