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Divorcing An Out-Of-State Spouse

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You are clear in your decision: you want a divorce.  But your spouse lives outside of Florida. Is that going to complicate things?  Perhaps—and though it may make things a bit trickier, it is far from impossible.  With a good, local divorce attorney by your side, it can be done.

Elements to Consider 

The first legal issue here is subject matter jurisdiction involving the question of whether a Florida court has jurisdiction in a divorce action.  Here, the residency requirement is that one spouse has lived in the Sunshine State for a minimum of six months before filing for the Dissolution of Marriage.  If you meet this bar, it doesn’t really matter if your spouse lives elsewhere; the court will have subject matter jurisdiction and can legally grant your divorce.

The next issue is personal jurisdiction. You and your spouse must have at some time maintained a home here in Florida, and your spouse must either:

  • Waive the jurisdiction issue, or;
  • Be served in the state of Florida;
  • Have significant contact within the state of Florida.

–Understanding that Last Point

 What is meant by having significant contact in the state? A court may determine it has jurisdiction if your spouse spends a lot of time in Florida, whether for business purposes, to visit family, or having a mortgage, for example. Especially if you both shared a domicile at the time you filed for divorce, jurisdiction will be easy to establish in Florida.

What if Personal Jurisdiction is an Issue? 

If your spouse doesn’t agree to waive jurisdiction and cannot be served in the state, what happens?  In this situation, you can still get the divorce, but all of the issues that are typically settled in a divorce such as property division and so forth, will be left dangling.  You and your ex will have to battle out jurisdiction between Florida and the state in which they reside in order to iron out those issues.

What if Your Out-of-State Spouse is the One Who Files?

 If your spouse moved out of state and then filed for divorce, what happens?  Understand that the laws in every state are different, but they all have minimum requirements for the length of time a person must live there before getting a divorce.  If the residency requirement has been met, it’s possible that the state could have jurisdiction if your spouse files first.  In some cases, the divorce could be pending in both states at the same time, until jurisdiction is determined. Before agreeing to that, be sure you’re familiar with the state’s divorce laws, as some states are less favorable than others when it comes to property division, alimony, and other issues.

Your Legal Advocate 

Regardless of the circumstances, having an experienced and dedicated Boca Raton divorce attorney fighting for the best possible outcomes for you in a divorce is essential. At WiseLieberman, you can count on aggressive and ardent work on your behalf.  To discuss the specifics, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.

Source:

floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/floridas-third-species-of-jurisdiction/

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