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How to Divorce

Getting a divorce is a complicated legal procedure governed by a variety of state and county laws. Sometimes referred to as "dissolution of marriage," divorce is subject to a different set of rules in each state. Before a party can file a petition for divorce, he or she must first determine which court has jurisdiction, meaning the legal right and power to hear a particular case.

Residency Requirement

To establish jurisdiction in divorce cases, every state has some sort of residency requirement, meaning how long a person must live in the particular state before being able to file. Although many states impose a six-month requirement, residency requirements range from six weeks in Nevada to one year in a few states. Some states simply require the petitioner to be a resident of the state, without specifying a period of time, while other states allow a divorce to be filed if the defendant spouse is a resident of that state, even if the filing spouse is not.

County Jurisdiction

In most states, the divorce petition is filed in a county court. County jurisdictions often have their own residency requirements for either the petitioner or the defendant. For example, while California's statewide residency requirement is six months, a petitioner must also have lived in the county of filing for the preceding three months. These rules vary from state to state and county to county.

Before filing for divorce in a particular state or county, it is important to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer who can provide accurate advice regarding a particular jurisdiction's residency requirements.