Domicile: a key issue to address in divorce proceedings

A divorce proceeding is often a confusing process and causes stress to individuals hoping to divide assets fairly. This process can become more complex when a spouse moves to a different state.

When a spouse moves out-of-state, the first of many aspects to consider is where either spouse can file a divorce petition. To properly file in any state, a spouse must be domiciled in that state. Every state has its own domicile requirements.

Spouses are domiciled in California if they have resided in the state for at least six months. Only one spouse is required to be domiciled in California before filing a petition. Additionally, a spouse must live in a particular county for at least three months before filing a petition in a particular county.

When exes are domiciled in different states

When one spouse meets the domicile requirements and the other spouse has moved out of state, the spouse filing the divorce petition must serve the documents to the other spouse. Typically, the filing spouse will serve the documents via certified mail or have another individual personally deliver the documents. To ensure that an out-of-state spouse receives the documents, petitioners often hire the local sheriff’s office or a professional process server to hand deliver the documents.

Knowing where to file a petition is only the first step in a divorce proceeding. Upon proper filing, spouses can address the specific issues unique to their marriage, such as child custody and property division. High-asset divorces are often complex, but experienced professionals will help individuals navigate property distribution and the divorce process.