It is not at all uncommon for divorce proceedings to begin just prior to a big, interstate move or just after such a move. Sometimes an interstate move is a last-ditch attempt to save a foundering marriage, and the geographical solution simply doesn’t work out. In other cases, a spouse might leave his or her spouse and go to another state to live with friends or family, avoid the other spouse, or simply start a new life. To be clear, you can obtain a divorce in Pennsylvania regardless of what state you were married in – and regardless of whether the other spouse has ever stepped foot into Pennsylvania – but there are some important points to keep in mind regarding Pennsylvania’s residency requirements for divorce and the power of the court in your particular divorce.
Pennsylvania’s Six-Month Residency Requirement
Pennsylvania state law requires that either spouse have lived in Pennsylvania with an intent to reside there permanently for at least six months prior to the filing of the action. Note that the law does not specify which spouse must live there. If you and your spouse lived in Pennsylvania for a year, and you moved to Ohio but he is still in Pennsylvania, you may still file the action in Pennsylvania.
But if you both lived in Ohio and only you moved to Pennsylvania two months ago, you will have to wait another four months before you can file. That said, this does not mean you should delay talking to a Pennsylvania family law attorney who can advise you steps you can take to protect yourself prior to the filing of the divorce action. For example, if your spouse is giving away or hiding marital assets or making unreasonable demands on you, a divorce attorney can advise you and represent your interests even if the case is not yet filed.
When a Spouse is Outside of Pennsylvania
If your spouse resides outside of Pennsylvania, then, again, you may still file a divorce action, but there will be a question of what jurisdiction the court has over your divorce-related matters. So long as you meet Pennsylvania’s residency requirement, the court can grant the divorce and thus terminate the marriage, and it can also issue orders relating to property located inside Pennsylvania, such as real estate and vehicles.
But if the other spouse has limited connection to Pennsylvania, then he or she might argue that the court has no personal jurisdiction and thus the court cannot make rulings which force the other spouse to take actions such as paying alimony or returning marital property that is outside of the state. An experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney can advise you on your rights with respect to questions such as this.
Schedule a Consultation with a PA Family Law Attorney Today
At The Martin Law Firm, P.C., in Montgomery County, we are committed to serving your family law needs in a compassionate manner. Call us today for a no-hassle consultation regarding any questions you have about prenuptial agreements in Pennsylvania.