DivorceWriter Logo
Home About Us Prices Start the Process Help Center Call 800 928-7713 (8am-4pm PDT M-F)

Where do I file for divorce?

Divorce Residency Requirement

Before filing for divorce in a state, you or your spouse must have lived there for a minimum time set by law. Additionally, some states require one spouse to live in the county where the divorce will be filed for a minimum length of time prior to filing. If you are completing your divorce forms online, the DivorceWriter interview provides the information you need to select the right state and county for filing your divorce.

Divorce Minimum Residency Requirement Map

Most commonly, the in-state residency minimum is three to six months, but the requirements vary depending on the state and the circumstances. Alaska, South Dakota, and Washington have no minimum residency requirement and you can file for divorce in those states immediately upon moving there. In Idaho and Nevada, the spouse seeking the divorce need only live there for six weeks before filing.

Depending on the state, the minimum residency requirement may be reduced if:

In New York, for example, the minimum residency requirement varies from no minimum to two years depending on which of those circumstances apply. The chart below indicates which states allow for a reduced minimum residence period.

In which county should I file for divorce?

Most states don't require a spouse to live in the filing county for a minimum time before filing for divorce there. Usually, the divorce is filed in the county where the filing spouse currently lives. When states do have a minimum in-county requirement, it tends to be less than the in-state residency requirement. In some states, you may file in the county where either spouse lives unless one spouse is still living in the county where the couple last lived together, in which case the divorce must be filed there. In other states, when both spouses live in-state, the divorce should be filed in the non-filing spouse's county if the spouses live in different counties.

Which court do I file my divorce papers at?

Divorces in the U.S. are generally filed either at a Circuit, District or Superior Court Clerk's office. New York is unique in that you file your divorce papers at the County Clerk's office and the case itself is assigned to the Supreme Court. In the remaining states, divorces are filed either at the Chancery, Family or Common Pleas Court Clerk's office. The Court Clerk collects the filing fee and the divorce paperwork on behalf of the Court, and eventually forwards your file to the judge assigned to your case. If you prepare your divorce papers using DivorceWriter, the state-specific filing instructions you'll receive will explain your filing options and also provide contact information for the Court Clerk's office.

State Residency Requirement & Where to File
Alabama State: No in-state minimum if both spouses live in state. 180 days if only one spouse lives in state.
County: No in-county minimum. If the Defendant lives in Alabama, file either in Defendant's county or the county where the parties lived together when the separation occurred. If the Defendant is not an Alabama resident, file in Plaintiff's county.
Court: Circuit
Alaska State: No in-state minimum residency requirement.
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Superior
Arizona State: 90 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Superior
Arkansas State: 60 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in Plaintiff's county. If Plaintiff lives out of state, file in non-filing Defendant's county.
Court: Circuit
California State: 180 days
County: 90 days
Court: Superior
Colorado State: 91 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: District
Connecticut State: 365 days
County/City: No in-county minimum. File in the county/city where the Defendant lives. If the Defendant does not live in Connecticut, file in the county/city where the Plaintiff lives.
Court: Superior
Delaware State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Family
District of Columbia State: 180 days
County:
Court: District
Florida State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. File either in the county where the parties last lived together or the county where the Respondent resides. If neither applies, file in Petitioner's county.
Court: Circuit
Georgia State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. You can always file in Respondent's county. If Respondent doesn't live in-state, file in Petitioner's county. If both spouses agree on any other county, DivorceWriter provides a form for the Respondent to sign consenting to the jurisdiction of the court in the agreed upon county.
Court: Superior
Hawaii State: 180 days
Island: 30 days on the island
Court: Circuit (1st Circuit-Oahu, 2nd Circuit-Maui, Lanai, Molokai, 3rd Circuit-Hawaii (Hilo and Kona Divisions), 4th Circuit-Kauai)
Idaho State: 45 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: District
Illinois State: 90 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Circuit
Indiana State: 180 days
County: 90 days
Court: Circuit/ Superior
Iowa State: 365 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: District
Kansas State: 60 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: District
Kentucky State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Circuit
Louisiana State: 365 days
Parish: No in-parish minimum. File in the parish where either spouse resides or where the spouses last lived together.
Court: District
Maine State: No in-state minimum if either: (1) the spouses married in state or (2) the breakdown of the marriage occurred in state. 180 days if neither of those apply.
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: District
Maryland State: None if the breakdown of the marriage happened in state; 180 days if the marriage broke down out of state.
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouses resides.
Court: Circuit
Massachusetts State: None if the breakdown of marriage happened in state; 365 days if the marriage broke down out of state.
County: No in-county minimum. If either spouse lives in the county where they last lived together as a married couple, file in that county. If neither spouse does, file in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Probate and Family Court Division
Michigan State: 180 days
County: 10 days
Court: Circuit
Minnesota State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum
Court: District
Mississippi State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Chancery
Missouri State: 90 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Circuit
Montana State: 90 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: District
Nebraska State: None if you were married in Nebraska and at least one spouse still lives there. 365 days if married in another state.
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouses resides.
Court: District
Nevada State: 45 days
  • Spouse filing for divorce must plan to live in state indefinitely.
  • Must file sworn affidavit from a Nevada resident having personal knowledge of the filing spouse meeting the minimum residency requirement.

County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where the Petitioner resides. Carson City filers will file at the Carson City District Court Clerk's office.
Court: District
New Hampshire State: None if both spouses live in state; 365 days if only one spouse lives in state.
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouses resides.
Court: Family Division
New Jersey State: 365 days
County: No in-county minimum
  • File the county where Plaintiff was living at the end of the six-month period of irreconcilable differences.
  • If Plaintiff did not live in New Jersey at the end of the six-month period of irreconcilable differences, file in the county where Defendant lived at the end of the six-month period.
  • If neither spouse lived in New Jersey at the end of the six-month period, file in the county where Plaintiff currently lives.
  • If Plaintiff does not currently live in New Jersey, file in the county where Defendant lived when service of process was made.

Court: Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part
New Mexico State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: District
New York State: None, if both spouses live in New York and the cause of the divorce happened in state.

365 days if:

  • The cause of the divorce happened in state, but only one spouse lives there;
  • You were married in state, but now only one spouse lives there; or
  • The spouses lived in NY while married at some point, but now only one spouse lives in state.

730 days if:

  • Only one spouse lives in state and none of the factors above apply.

County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Supreme
North Carolina State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Superior
North Dakota State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in Defendant's county if Defendant lives in state. Otherwise, Plaintiff may file in any county.
Court: District
Ohio State: 180 days
County: 90 days
Court: Common Pleas
Oklahoma State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum if filed in Respondent's county or 30 days if filed in Petitioner's county.
Court: District
Oregon State: None if you were married in state;180 days if you were married in another state.
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Circuit
Pennsylvania State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides or in any Pennsylvania county if the spouses have agreed in a writing attached to the Complaint or by participating in the proceeding.
Court: Common Pleas
Rhode Island State: 365 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in Plaintiff's county as long as Plaintiff meets the 365-day in-state residency requirement. If not, file in Defendant's county provided Defendant meets the 365-day in-state residency requirement.
Court: Family Court
South Carolina State: 90 days if both spouses live in state; 365 days if only one spouse lives in state.
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where (1) the Defendant resides at the time the divorce is filed, (2) the Plaintiff resides if the Defendant is a non-resident and cannot be located, or (3) where the parties last resided together as husband and wife unless the Plaintiff is not a resident of South Carolina in which case you should file in the county where Defendant resides.
Court: Circuit
South Dakota State: No minimum residency requirement
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Circuit
Tennessee State: None if grounds for divorce happened in state;180 days if the grounds for divorce happened in another state.
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where the parties resided together at the time of their separation or in the county where the Defendant resides. If the Defendant is not a resident of Tennessee or is incarcerated, file in the county where the Plaintiff resides.
Court: Circuit/Chancery
Texas State: 180 days
County: 90 days
Court: District
Utah State: 90 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: District
Vermont State: 180 days
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: Superior
Virginia State: 180 days
County/City: No in-county minimum. File in the county or city where (1) the spouses last resided together, (2) the Defendant resides, if the Defendant is a resident of Virginia, and (3) the Plaintiff resides, if the Defendant is a nonresident of Virginia.
Court: Circuit
Washington State: No minimum residency requirement
County: No in-county minimum and you may file in any county, regardless of where you and your spouse live in WA.
Court: Superior
West Virginia State: 365 days
County: No in-county minimum.
  • If the non-filing spouse is a resident of West Virginia, the divorce may be filed in the county where the non-filing spouse lives.
  • If the non-filing spouse does not reside in West Virginia, the divorce may be filed in the county where the filing spouse lives.
  • The divorce can always be filed in the county where the spouses last lived together as husband and wife.

Court: Circuit
Wisconsin State: 180 days
County: 90 days
Court: Circuit
Wyoming State: None if the marriage occurred in the state and the filing spouse has lived in Wyoming since the marriage date; otherwise, 60 days.
County: No in-county minimum. File in the county where either spouse resides.
Court: District

Do I have to file for divorce where I live?

Most people don't realize that when spouses live in difference states, an out-of-state spouse can usually file for divorce in his or her spouse's state as long as the in-state spouse meets any minimum residency requirements. While this is somewhat unusual, it might be desirable if, for example, your spouse lives in a state with a shorter residency requirement or a significantly lower filing fee, but he or she simply doesn't want the hassle of being the one who files the paperwork. In such cases, the filing spouse may find it worth his or her effort to file for divorce out-of-state, even if it means traveling there for the divorce hearing.

In divorces with minor children, however, it is generally best to file in the home state of the children, ideally the place where the children have lived for at least six months and will most likely remain indefinitely. Otherwise, the Court may not have jurisdiction over issues like custody and child support, which could complicate your divorce by leaving these important matters unresolved. Moreover, one or both spouses may want to modify custody, visitation and/or child support at some point down the road before the children reach adulthood. If you and your children are still living in the state where the divorce was granted, the modification process is much easier because the divorce court retains jurisdiction over those matters.

What's it all mean?

As a practical matter, most couples live in the same state and easily meet the in-state minimum residency requirements for divorce. When spouses live in different states, either spouse's home state is probably an option for divorce, although spouses with minor children will find divorce the easiest when they file in the state where the children live.

See Also

© 2016 Pro Se Planning, Inc. All rights reserved. Terms of Use | 100% Guarantee | Privacy | Help Center - Contact | Sitemap
DivorceWriter.com™ is a leading self-help divorce document web site.
However, this site does not provide legal advice and use of this site is
not a substitute for hiring an attorney licensed to practice in your state.