You live in Marin and your spouse is in San Francisco. Where should you be filing divorce? Are there advantages to choosing one venue over the other?
Each state has unique residency requirements. If a person wants to file a lawsuit in a state family court, residency requirements must be met.
If a person wishes to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in California, he/she or his/her spouse must be a state resident for six months and a county resident for three months immediately preceding the date the Petition is filed with the Superior Court of California.
If each spouse has lived in different California counties for three months preceding filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the case can be filed in either spouse’s county of residence.
If a person has lived in California for at least three months but not yet six months, he/she can file a Petition for Legal Separation, not Dissolution of Marriage. Once the six month residency requirement is satisfied, the Petition may be amended to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
If a spouse files a Petition for Legal Separation in California, the responding spouse can ask the court to grant a Dissolution of Marriage instead of a Legal Separation. If one spouse wants to divorce while the other prefers to separate, the California judge must grant the divorce once the legal requirements for doing so are satisfied.
If a spouse is active in the military, the parties might be able to file for divorce or separation in three different counties, cities, states or countries.
Different counties within California have different judges, rules, procedures and attorneys, which impacts cases.
Whomever initiates proceedings for Legal Separation or Dissolution of Marriage in California selects the county, state or country where to file.
If a couple can legally separate or divorce in more than one county or state, the spouse who files can shop for the most favorable venue.
A responding spouse may challenge the selected county, state or country with grounds, but the courts can deny venue changes and keep cases where they were filed.
So, county and state residency requirements can change the outcome of a divorce.
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