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The following is for informational purposes only

Divorce Laws by State

divorce laws

Divorce laws are handled differently according to the state. It is important for individuals to fully understand their state's divorce laws before proceeding for financial and personal reasons. A relatively simple divorce had by a friend or colleague in one state does not have a bearing on the person's divorce, and vice versa. It is important to know the difference in these laws by the state as it could mean the difference between amicable separation and a nasty hassle over child custody, property division, and alimony payments.

Serving Requirements for Different States

divorce laws

Almost every state permits those who are above the age of 18 to serve divorce papers. Law enforcement personnel like the sheriff's office may also serve divorce papers. The majority of states also allow one to serve their papers if the divorce is contested. However, it would be advisable to check in with the county clerk to ensure this is viable.

In states like California, it is also allowed to have divorce papers be served by a friend, relative or professional server. The process servers must be licensed in Alaska, Michigan, Nevada, Delaware, and Texas. In New York, though, the servers must be approved in New York City but not the entire state.

Interestingly, the day divorce papers can be served by state. For example, Minnesota, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, New York, and Tennessee do not allow divorce papers to be served on Sundays. In New York, it is also prohibited to serve divorce papers on a Saturday if the recipient observes it as a religious holiday.

Cooling-Off Periods

Divorce cooling-off periods refer to the mandatory wait time before the finalization of the divorce. The purpose of the cooling-off time is to allow reconciliation to occur, though it does not usually occur. It does not also mean the time the case may take to be resolved, which would vary from months to years, depending on the specific case. In states like California, though, the cooling-off period is six months.

Even if everything else is resolved, it still takes six months for the divorce to be finalized. The six months also start after filing the petition. In Idaho, the period is 20 days, but that can increase to 90 days if children are involved. Other states like New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, Georgia, and Montana do not have a cooling-off period, though.

Can You File for Divorce In Another State?

Filing for divorce when one spouse lives in another state can complicate a divorce. There are two issues to tackle in this scenario. That would be persuading one's courts to accept the case and for the state government to finalize the divorce. One does not have to be in the state that issued the marriage license. Rather an individual will have to file the divorce according to the state of current residence. There is a residency requirement as well: the years or months before one can file for divorce. In Texas, for example, one has to be a resident of the state for at least six months and of a county for 90 days.

The majority of states accept the court orders issued in other states. So if one's divorce is finalized in one state, it will be upheld in another, though there are some exceptions to the rule. If the divorce is interstate and one fails to notify their spouse concerning the proceedings, it will not be recognized elsewhere. Similarly, if there is property or children in a state jurisdiction that does not recognize the divorce, it may refuse to enforce child custody orders of settlements.

When the divorce is finalized, though, it may be advisable to go back to the courts for a modification of the divorce terms. It may be to ask that the child custody be switched. Though one does not have to go back to the state which issued the marriage license in the first place, there is a need to go back to the state that approved the divorce to request the divorce terms be changed. If one lives in another state, the government may be willing to impose new terms if the spouse has been given proper notice of the proceedings.

How Fees Vary According to State

divorce laws

Filing fees vary from one state to another, and they change continuously. In Illinois, the filing fees are $324.50, while Florida has the highest current fee at $421. State legislatures determine the filing fees, and these are subject to change without due notice. One can find a detailed breakdown of the filing fee spent depending on the county or state. In states where the filing costs differ, the population affects the rate though fees do not vary more than $100.

States also tend to charge a higher fee if minor children are involved. The cost of this additional factor may range from $10 to $50. It is because there is a higher level of paperwork and anticipation of more time reviewing documents to come to the child support settlement. There is the case even in uncontested cases where there is an agreement between the parents and the children.

Getting Legal Representation is Best for Divorce in Any State

Divorce is a sensitive subject, and the laws governing it vary from one state to another. It makes every experience unique despite the difficult circumstances. Serving is advisably done by either spouse or a professional server. There are also days when it is forbidden to serve divorce papers, especially on a religious holiday.

Each state also has a cooling-off period, given before the divorce is finalized, even if everything has been resolved. This period may be increased if there are children involved. The presence of children in a divorce settlement also tends to increase the filing fees, which vary depending on the state. It stems from the complication of child custody decisions, support payments, and the extra paperwork involved.

Fortunately, though, it is possible to file for divorce from a different state. However, one has to have satisfied the residency requirements for divorce settlement and make sure their spouse is aware of all proceedings for the divorce to be recognized in the jurisdiction. That is for property settlements and child custody considerations.