File for Divorce (Legally)

Couples considering filing for divorce are not alone. Some studies report that in the United States over 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, and around 43 percent of all marital unions are ultimately dissolved. To go along with those grim divorce statistics, the average estimated length of an average divorce proceeding, divorce attorneys say, can be up to a year long. Divorce is not only a painful and difficult decision, but one that is often drawn out to boot. Divorce law is a state law issue, so the rules vary from state to state. However, there are many factors in common, and we’ll look at some in this blog. There is even an option for a “no fault divorce.”

So, what makes it legal? What is a legal divorce?

Residency Requirements

In order to file for divorce in any given state, and make it a legal divorce whether it’s a no fault divorce or an at fault divorce, you must meet that state’s residency requirements, and they’re different from state to state. Most state residency requirements have common rules, such as either you or your spouse must live in the state in which you file for divorce. It is not enough that you were married in the state or that you lived there at one time in the past. And, in some states, the person filing for divorce must be a resident of the state. In most cases state residency laws require that the person claiming residency to have lived in the state for more than a year. If you live in one state and file for divorce there, but your spouse lives in another state, there could be a  hitch. Under that scenario, your spouse either must consent to divorce in that state, be served (divorce papers) in that state, or have some official contact with the state, like a vacation home or business there. If, however, your spouse has nothing to do with the state, will not consent to divorce in that jurisdiction, and cannot be served in the state, then you may need to file elsewhere, like in the state your spouse lives. It is also possible to qualify to file for divorce in more than one state. Do some research and file for a legal divorce in the state with favorable divorce laws, including the available grounds for divorce, how the state divides marital property, and how it awards alimony and child custody. All these are considerations for filing for a legal divorce.

Do I Need a Reason to File for Divorce?

The short answer to this question is no. In the early days of divorce litigation, some cause, or grounds had to be given before a marriage could be dissolved. Modern divorce law introduced the concept of the “no fault”  divorce, where neither party is held to blame. In the past, couples had to have a compelling reason reason (such as adultery or abuse) to file for divorce. Today, courts do not necessarily blame one party for the divorce, which is why there has been a shift to no-fault divorce.  On August 15, 2010, Governor David Paterson signed no fault divorce into law in New York state, making no fault divorce an option in all fifty states.

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