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How To File for Divorce if Your Spouse Lives Out of State


When marriages end, couples will go their separate ways. In many cases, this means moving out to an apartment on the other side of town, but other times one spouse may leave Florida and move to another state before the divorce is filed. While filing for divorce with a spouse who lives out of state can complicate issues, the process is not impossible to handle. If you are dealing with this issue in the Tampa Bay area, the experienced divorce attorney at the law office of Blair H. Chan, III can help. Call or contact the office today to learn more.

Residency Concerns

In order to file for divorce in Florida, at least one spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to the divorce. If you moved to Florida after you and your spouse split or if you lived in Florida as a couple and your spouse moved out of state, you qualify to file for divorce in Florida.

Type of Divorce

Once you have established the residency requirement, the next step is deciding what type of divorce you will file for in Florida. One option is filing for a simplified divorce, which is available if you and your spouse do not have children, do not want alimony, and you have reached a settlement on the distribution of marital property. You will be required to file a number of forms with the court and a hearing with the court will be scheduled. However, in order to file a simplified divorce, your spouse must be present for the filing and for the hearing. If your spouse refuses to come back to the state or cannot, you must file for a general divorce.

A general petition for divorce is for spouses that cannot be present for all steps of a simplified divorce, do not agree on all issues going into a divorce, or possess one of the qualifiers that makes them ineligible for a simplified divorce, such as minor children or if one spouse is seeking spousal support payments. You can file a general petition for divorce without your spouse present, so long as notice and paperwork is served to your spouse in the other state. Your out of state spouse has twenty days to respond to the notice and must be present for the hearing. If your spouse does not appear, then the divorce petition will be considered uncontested.

Jurisdictional Limitations

It is important to note that Florida courts only have jurisdiction over certain matters. If you spouse lives out of state, the court may only rule on the issue of divorce but possibly not issues of minor children, alimony, or issues of property if they are located outside of Florida. These issues can only be decided by the Florida court in the state where the couple last lived for six months or where the disputed property is located.

Call or Contact The Office

To learn more about your legal options for filing for divorce when a spouse is living out of state, call or contact the office of Blair H. Chan, III to speak with an experienced Tampa divorce attorney now.




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