The divorce process is confusing, even under the best of circumstances. It can be even more so when spouses live in two different states. There are several reasons a divorce may face a residency issue. A spouse could move back to their home state or another state, but in all cases, it can spell confusion when it applies to divorce residency requirements.
State laws govern divorces, so each state has its own set of requirements for ending a marriage within that state. Residency requirements, therefore, vary from state to state. They set out to determine the residential status of the individuals filing for a divorce and whether they can do so in that state.
The court will not accept the case if the couple doesn’t meet residency requirements, so it’s essential to understand the law in your state. This guide gives you all the necessary information on Virginia residency requirements for divorce in hopes of providing a little clarity in an emotional time.
Virginia Divorce Residency Requirements
At least one spouse must be a bona fide resident of the state to file for a divorce in Virginia. If the court finds that neither person lived or lives in Virginia, it will dismiss the case. Some things to keep in mind:
Bona Fide Resident
Only a bona fide resident can file for a divorce in Virginia. A person is deemed a bona fide resident after they have lived in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce.
Armed Service Members
The residency requirements also pertain to members of the armed forces in active duty stationed in Virginia and those who lived in the state for six months before being deployed. Living in the state includes being stationed on a base, a barracks, or a ship with a home port in Virginia. A foreign member of the armed forces stationed in Virginia for at least six months is considered a bona fide resident.
One Spouse Requirement
Only one spouse must be a resident of Virginia to file for a divorce in the state. No connection to the state of Virginia is required for the other spouse. You will still get a divorce if only one of you lived in Virginia, but where the other spouse lives and their connection to the state can determine some final factors.
The court must decide if it holds personal jurisdiction over any spouse who does not fill the residency requirement. It looks at factors such as the birth and adoption of children and where each spouse lived when they separated. Personal jurisdiction influences factors such as child support and alimony. Without it, a couple can still end their marriage and divide their marital property in the state, but child support and alimony issues will go unresolved.
The residency requirements in Virginia are relatively simple but not always doable. Anyone unsure whether they meet the law should consider consulting with a divorce attorney.
What to Do if You Can’t Fulfill Virginia Residency Requirements for Divorce
There are some circumstances where you find yourself in Virginia and need to end your marriage, but you didn’t get married in the state and haven’t lived there long enough. Here are a few options you can take if you don’t fulfill the Virginia residency requirements:
Establish Residency in the State of Virginia
Living in Virginia for six months is all it takes to meet the residency requirements, but you may still have to present proof. It’s great if you have documentation in the form of pay stubs, rent receipts, and utility bills in your name to back you up. Paying property taxes, getting a driver’s license and a voter’s registration card are also ways to establish yourself in the state. You can use the time to gather other documentation if you’re short of the six months needed.
Choose Another State
You may meet the residency requirements for divorce in another state, such as the one in which you got married, and would be able to file for divorce there successfully. Another option is having your spouse file in their home state.
Establishing residency and fulfilling the Virginia residency requirements can take some time. Once you’ve done so, though, you can get through the process quickly for an uncontested divorce – even avoiding a court appearance.
Mistakes to Avoid
Ending a marriage often requires attending meetings, assembling documents, and filling out paperwork, so diligence is crucial. It’s easy to forget a document or let an important date slip by. There are a few things you don’t want to do, including:
Missing a Deadline
You should never miss a deadline under any circumstances. Do everything in your power to appear at every meeting and hearing, if any are required, and turn in all documents when asked.
Waiting until the last minute to gather your documents and information is a recipe for disaster. There are always unexpected hurdles to jump. Determine all the documents you need and the steps to take to be organized and ready for every hurdle.
Divorce and changing residency often go together since it isn’t uncommon for one spouse to move out of state. The Virginia residency requirements seem simple, but the process can get overwhelming when you add in the other concerns. The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to get the legal help you need to understand the process thoroughly.
Contact a Divorce Expert When You Have Questions
There are so many factors in a divorce, and residency requirements are just one. Having a professional on your side who can guide you through the legal issues is always a good idea.
The Law Office of Michael Ephraim specializes in fast, simple uncontested divorces and has helped thousands of couples end their marriages without the legal hassles. Spouses can contact us today with questions about divorce and Virginia residency requirements.