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Divorcing in Different States: Where Do You File?


Jack and Jane are married and were married in Illinois. However, they have since separated and for the past year, Jack has been living in Indiana while Jane remained in Illinois with their two children. Now, after realizing that they cannot work things out, Jack and Jane want to end their marriage.

But, where can/should they file?

The end of a marriage is often complicated enough when both spouses live in the same state. But when a spouse moves across state lines and stays there for an extended period of time, often more than three months, this can complicate the situation, especially when children are involved.

Where Should You File?

In any state, there are residency requirements to file for divorce. For example, Illinois has a residency requirement of 90 days prior to filing. This means that if someone moves to Illinois and wants to start proceedings, they can’t do so immediately and must instead wait.

If you meet the residency requirement in Illinois and your spouse doesn’t meet the requirement in their state, you should file in Illinois to get your case started. If you both meet the residency requirements, you may need to decide with your spouse (or through your attorneys) which state to proceed in.

Keep in mind that states have different laws that govern the major issues in your settlement. For example, Indiana has no laws regarding spousal maintenance whereas Illinois has strict guidelines as to when maintenance is awarded, how much is awarded, and for how long. As such, you should evaluate which state is in your best interests as only one state can properly hear the case.

What if Children are Involved?

In the example using Jack and Jane above, Jane lived in Illinois with the children. And, in many cases, this would mean that the case will be heard in Illinois because it is where the children reside.

Of course, there are specific laws in place to protect children and their interests when a marriage breaks down. Specifically, Illinois has the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) which is meant to resolve custody disputes and prevent prolonged custody battles across state lines.

As you can imagine, this gets rather complicated and is best left to your lawyer in Naperville.

If You’re Concerned About Which State to File in, Contact Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

The end of a marriage is complicated, messy, and, unfortunately, a lengthy process for many individuals. As such, it’s important that you file the case in the proper state. With the assistance and expertise of an experienced family law attorney, such as Larry Surinak, you can do just that.

If you would like to discuss specific details of your situation with Larry or want to set up your free 30-minute consultation, contact us at 630-470-9990 or fill out our online form. We look forward to hearing from you and offering our support and expertise to resolve state disputes in your case.

Concentrated on Family Law

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.