Can you move out of state during the divorce process?

Can I Move Out of State During the Divorce Process?

Getting divorced is complex enough but what happens if one spouse wants to move out of California?  It is not unusual for people facing divorce to move-on out of state. While some are seeking a fresh start, other considerations may include moving closer to family, lowering the cost of living expenses, or relocation for a job with increased pay.

Residency Requirements

The decision to move out of state is completely legal in most cases (if you have children see below). Most states have a residency requirement to file for divorce. In California, at least one party must be a resident of the state for six months and the county for three months prior to filing for divorce. For this reason, it is common for a couple who lived in California during marriage to divorce through the California courts. One spouse will just need to meet the residency requirements upon filing for divorce.

Handling Divorce While Out of State

If you choose to move to another state it can be beneficial to file for divorce first in California. While your divorce is pending, be aware that you may need to return to California for court appearances, depositions, or other case related matters. Much these days can be done remotely but be prepared that returning to California may be necessary to complete the divorce.  A good divorce attorney should be able to guide you through the process and handle most court appearances for you or arrange for you to appear remotely, but it is always good to consult with an attorney and have a plan.

California is a No-Fault Divorce State

Many couples prefer to divorce in California as it is a no-fault divorce state. This means that fault is irrelevant to determining whether a party is entitled to divorce, the calculation of child or spousal support, or the division of community property.

California treats spouses equally. There is no presumption in favor of gender for child custody, support or division of property rights. Similarly, the spouses have the same rights regardless of who filed for divorce first.  As a community property state, California encourages the equal division of all assets and debts acquired during marriage. Scheduling a consultation with an attorney to better understand the financial impact a divorce will have on you moving forward is a good place to start. At Buncher Family Law, our experienced attorneys handle consults over Zoom to help you set up a “Clear Path Legal Strategy.”

Do You Have Kids?

If children are involved, and the place where they have been primarily living for the last six months is in one state, then that state will generally have jurisdiction over child custody. To that end, it will be generally necessary to have the divorce filed and handled in that state. This applies to getting divorced in California as well as other states. 

Parents who share custody must deal with a challenging situation if one parent decides to move out of state, or even relocate to another county within the same state if they wish to take the children with them. Taking the children to live out of state is referred to as a “move-away” request when the distance between the parents is no longer local or convenient. For more details on this situation check out our blog on move-away orders.

In Conclusion

The attorneys at Buncher Family Law have many years of experience working with spouses through a litany of cases successfully resolving such issues. If you find you have questions about your specific situation, please reach out to our firm for assistance in this complicated area of family law.

Posted in Child Custody, Court Preparation.