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What Are Residency Requirements in Divorce?

Wondering where you should file a divorce petition? It’s all based on where you’re currently living (or have been, in some cases). Before you can file for divorce, you must meet certain residency requirements for your state. In some states, either you or your spouse must also meet residency requirements for the county in which you file.

Residency rules for divorce, separation, and dissolution of domestic partnerships

The rules vary widely across states and even counties. For example, someone who wants a divorce in Colorado must first prove that they (or their spouse) have resided in Colorado for 90 days. A person who wants a divorce in California, however, must first prove that they (or their spouse) have lived in California for at least six months, and they must prove that they (or their spouse) have lived in their filing county for at least three months.

That’s right: A person who just moved to Colorado does not have to wait as long as a person who just moved to California to file for divorce.

States may impose other rules regarding residency as well. For example, a couple who wants a legal separation in California does not have to wait at all. The same goes for the dissolution of domestic partnerships in California. 

Another example: In New York, you can satisfy the waiting period requirement in one of two ways. Option one: Prove you have lived in New York for two years. Option two: One of you must prove you have lived in New York for one year AND that you got married in New York (OR that the events constituting grounds for divorce occurred in New York).

Are residency requirements the same if kids are involved?

When kids are involved, the residency rules for divorce may become hairier still. Again, it depends on the state you’re in. In some states, residency requirements exist for the children of the divorcing couple. 

What’s more, the residency requirements for kids may differ from the residency requirements for adults.

For example, a person in Utah who wants a divorce must first prove that they (or their spouse) have lived in Utah for the past three months. If the Utah couple has a child, however, and custody issues arise, there’s another rule: In most cases, the child must have lived with one of the parents in Utah for at least six months.

If you have kids and are planning to move before you file for divorce, check if you will be able to move the kids, too. Some states won’t allow you to remove the child from where they have been a resident for a timeframe (such as six months). In that case, you would need to return to their state of residence to file for a divorce. 

The alternatives: your kids must remain with your ex in their current state in which they’ve been residing for the past six months or you will need to wait to file until your children meet residency requirements in the new state.

How to find out the divorce residency requirements for your state and county

So many differences exist between the states, it’s enough to make your head spin. 

How can you find out which rules apply to you? The residency requirements for divorce in your state can be found with a simple Google search. A word of caution, though: Not all websites display the correct information. To feel confident in your online discovery, stick to official government websites (.gov) maintained by your state. 

Here are some reliable websites you can use to learn more about the legal requirements for divorce in your state.

  • California: Visit California’s Judicial Branch website here.
  • Colorado: Visit Colorado’s Judicial Branch website here.
  • Florida: Visit Florida’s Senate website here.
  • New York: Visit the New York Court website here.
  • Texas: Visit Texas’ Family Code document here.
  • Utah: Visit the Utah Court website here.

Divorce is exhausting enough without going on a wild goose chase to find basic information like the residential filing requirements.

That’s why we created Hello Divorce: To help people who want to divorce advance to new, exciting life chapters with relative ease. 

If you’re curious about divorce requirements in your state but unsure where to start, we give you options. If you’re not yet a Hello Divorce member, reach out to us for a free 15-minute phone call. If you’re already a member, simply email your account coordinator with questions like, “How long do I have to wait to file for divorce in my state?”