Divorce Living in Different States

Divorce Living in Different States

It’s an unfortunate yet common scenario. A married couple lives in one place, but when the marriage goes south, one of the spouses leaves the state with the kids and files for divorce in the new state. This can make an already tense and stressful event even scarier, especially when children are involved. No doubt, there are a lot of factors that can make a difference in how a case turns out, but there is good news. Usually, a person cannot leave the marital home and attempt to avail himself or herself of another state’s divorce courts as a strategy for putting the non-relocating spouse at a disadvantage. Here’s what you need to know about divorce living in different states.

Understanding Venue & Jurisdiction

Legal terms like venue and jurisdiction are often confusion, and people often incorrectly use them interchangeably. But take a close look at the differences:

  • Jurisdiction is the court’s ability to hear a certain type of case or decide a matter relating to a specific person. First, the court gets jurisdiction over the person. Second, the court must have proper jurisdiction over the subject matter in dispute. So, for instance, if someone tries to bring a lawsuit involving a dispute over a federal law in state court, the state court judge may dismiss because there is no jurisdiction.
  • Venue is the location where the case can proceed. If two residents of Charleston County, South Carolina get into a dispute, one of them may travel to a distant county to file suit, but the court has a right to deny venue or transfer venue to a more appropriate location. But this usually does not happen automatically.

Where do divorces have to be filed?

The plaintiff is the person who files the paperwork to initiate the divorce, and the defendant is the person who must respond to it. Under South Carolina law, there are three options for where a plaintiff can file for divorce:

  • The county where the defendant lives at the time the case is filed
  • The county where the plaintiff lives (only in situations where the defendant lives out of state or can’t be located)
  • The county where both people “last resided together as husband and wife” (except when the Plaintiff is not a South Carolina resident. In those cases, the case must be brought in the county where the defendant lives)

This statute should offer at least some comfort, because it gives a strong protection to South Carolina residents when going through a divorce living in different states.

Common Situations Involving Venue

Sometimes one spouse will relocate to live with a new lover in a distant county or even a different state. That person may live there and create a new life away from the other spouse.  However, as the law makes clear, that relocated spouse has only one real option—to file in the county where the defendant lives. When it comes to divorcing in different states, the law favors stability, and it favors filing the case in the location where the couple generally lived their lives as a married couple.

Get Help With Your Divorce

Divorce is more than splitting ways. It is the entire separation of finances and relational ties between two individuals. It can often be one of the most emotionally draining and difficult legal battles a person will ever fight. No one should face a divorce alone. Having experienced legal representation can make a big difference in the outcome.

If you are facing a divorce in or around the Mt. Pleasant and Charleston, SC area, contact us to speak with one of the compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC.