Once you head down the path of divorce, you have a ton of subsequent decisions to make. This includes where you file for divorce since jurisdiction has a huge impact on what follows.
Filling out all of the proper forms is one thing, but where you ultimately file them may turn out just as important. Do you file for divorce where you live? Or where your spouse lives? Can you file for divorce in a different county than your residence?
How Does Jurisdiction Affect Divorce?
Laws vary a great deal from one state to the next, and even from county to county. Where you live has a big influence on how the courts divide property, rule on child custody, and even determine child and spousal support.
Because of this, you want to take steps to file for divorce in the right state, county, and even court.
Do You Have To File In The State You Live In?
Many people mistakenly believe you must file for divorce in the state where you were married. That’s simply not true. People move around the country all the time. If you relocate from state to state often, it can be difficult to pin down where to file for divorce.
Members of the military often face this issue. You must meet the legal residency requirements of the state where you file for divorce. This keeps people from bouncing from one state to another to find more favorable divorce laws.
Every state has specific rules and regulations regarding residency. Most require you to live in-state for a specific amount of time before you can dissolve your marriage there.
For example, you must live continuously in Oregon for six months before you can file for divorce here.
Kansas, on the other hand, only requires 60 days, while New York wants a full year. Some states even have individual counties with their own residency requirements. For example, if you move from one California county to another, you must wait three months before you can file for divorce there.
Oregon doesn’t have this stipulation. If you move from Portland to Eugene, you can file immediately. But if you move to Washington, things are different and it’s important to know the regulations.
Related Reading: What are the Grounds for Divorce in Oregon?
Filing For Divorce When You Live In Different States
Divorcing spouses often live in different states.
Depending on the situation, one state may offer certain advantages to filing there. On the other side of that coin, a particular state having jurisdiction may negatively impact your case. Again, knowing how things differ is key.
It isn’t necessary for both spouses to be legal residents of the same state. If the two parties agree which state has jurisdiction, you can file for divorce there if you choose.
In cases where both parties have established residency, the state where the papers are first filed usually maintains jurisdiction.
Related Reading: How Do Criminal Charges Affect Child Custody?
Divorce Jurisdiction Impacts Several Areas
So, why is where you file for divorce so important? Jurisdiction impacts many facets of the process. It influences your financial state going forward, how much you see your kids, and much more. Here are the ways it can have an impact.
Division of Property:
When it comes to the division of property, Oregon practices equitable distribution. In equitable distribution, the court views the property as belonging to the spouse who earned it.
On the other hand, some states follow community property statutes. They view all assets acquired during a marriage as belonging equally to both. This affects how the court splits up property and assets during a divorce.
Child custody is a big issue in many divorces. Numerous factors play into the court’s decision.
Courts can order joint custody or sole custody, but again, the specifics vary from one state to the next.
In Oregon, the court can only award joint custody if both parents agree. Beyond that, any person with an established emotional relationship with a child, related by blood or not, can petition for custody or visitation.
This is quite different from other states and illustrates how much influence jurisdiction has. The way jurisdiction is determined in cases involving children does differ, but we’ll talk more about that later.
Child support payments cover a child’s basic necessities after divorce. This includes a safe place to live, food, medical care, education, and more.
Courts consider a variety of factors when determining the amount. Need, the earning potential of each parent, parenting time, and other factors all play their part.
But states also weigh these elements differently, so the final amount may vary depending on where you file for divorce.
While it’s less formulaic than child support, Oregon has three types of spousal support:
- Transitional support is designed to help smooth one spouse transition back to single life.
- Compensatory support pops up most often in cases where the division of property skews sharply one way. Or when one spouse contributed substantially to the future earning potential of the other.
- Maintenance support usually occurs when there’s a large disparity in earning potential.
Again, not every state handles things this way, so where you file for divorce often plays a huge role in this realm.
Related Reading: Is Oregon a Community Property State?
Jurisdiction And Child Custody
As with most areas of divorce, children complicate matters. Jurisdiction is no different. We touched above on how different states rule on child custody. But establishing jurisdiction in custody cases is another issue entirely.
While spouses can consent to another state having jurisdiction in a divorce, that’s not necessarily the case with custody decisions.
This is where the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act comes into play. Established in the late 1960s, and adopted by every state by 1981, the UCCJEA is a statute that determines jurisdiction in cases involving children.
It’s a complicated set of rules and regulations that establish a child’s “home state” in custody situations.
Designed to serve the well-being and best interests of minor children, the home state is usually where the child lived for the previous six months or one where the child has substantial connections.
These are just a few ways that illustrate the importance of where you file for divorce. Jurisdiction impacts many areas of the process, and it’s vital to know how. State laws often vary in small but significant ways you never expect.
Whether you live in Oregon or another state can have a huge impact on your settlement, and your life moving forward, and it’s definitely worth learning the ins and outs.
Related Reading: Best Interest Of The Child