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Getting Divorced When Spouse Resides Out-of-State

Getting Divorced When Spouse Resides Out-of-State

By Alexander T. Lewis of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Oftentimes, issues arise when a spouse lives in a different state than where the other spouse wants to file for divorce. This can arise when a spouse voluntarily leaves Virginia and the remaining spouse wants to file for divorce or when a spouse moves to Virginia from another state to file for divorce.

First, in order for either spouse to file for divorce in Virginia, one of the spouses must have been a resident and bona fide domiciliary of Virginia for at least six months prior to filing the Complaint for Divorce. The next issue is determining whether the Virginia court has personal jurisdiction over the spouse who does not reside in Virginia – that is whether the Virginia court has any power over the non-resident spouse.

If the spouse left Virginia upon the parties’ separation, the Virginia court likely has personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state spouse because the parties maintained a home in Virginia in which they resided and the spouse filing for divorce still resides in Virginia. Under this scenario, the Virginia court has jurisdiction to address all issues in the divorce, including custody, support, and equitable distribution of property.

However, if the spouse filing for divorce moved to Virginia alone and the other party has never set foot in Virginia, the court is likely going to have limited jurisdiction in the case. For example, if the parties resided in Texas and then husband moved to Virginia and filed for divorce after six months, the Virginia court would not have personal jurisdiction over the wife. This means that the Virginia court would only be able to divorce the parties and would be unable to address any issues of support or property. Proceeding with a divorce on this basis can have serious repercussions and you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your legal matter with an attorney, please contact Duff Kronfeld & Marquardt P.C. for a complementary, 30-minute consultation at (703) 591-7475.

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