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Where should I file my divorce?

Imagine you got married in New York, but now you live in Washington, D.C. Depending where you lived when you got married, and where you live now, it could be confusing to know where you should file for your divorce.

The question of where you file your paperwork relates to "court jurisdiction." Essentially, you need to determine which court currently holds jurisdiction over your case -- or, which court has the power to rule on your divorce.

Court jurisdiction and divorce matters

Divorces will generally be handled by a state court, or -- in the case of Washington, D.C. -- by a District of Columbia court. For example, spouses can file their divorces in D.C. if they and/or their spouse have been living here for at least six months prior to the divorce filing, regardless of where they were originally married.

Only one of you -- either you or your spouse -- needs to satisfy the residency requirement to file your divorce in Washington, D.C. You might, however, wish to file your divorce in a different state for a variety of reasons. In some cases, spouses prefer the court system and family laws of another state. As such, if you have a choice in the matter regarding where you will litigate your divorce, you might want to consider how the laws differ in Washington, D.C., as compared to the other state where you could file.

Aside from differences in laws relating to asset division, child custody and other matters pertaining to a divorce, spouses may also want to consider the difficulty of traveling to another state for their divorce proceedings. If both spouses are located in Washington, D.C., the simple convenience of having your court proceedings take place close to you could prevail in your decision-making process.

Questions about court jurisdiction

Spouses who are having a difficult time deciding where to file their divorce papers will want to consider this question carefully. Indeed, the court you choose to decide your case could affect the outcome of your divorce proceedings in a significant way.

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