Can I Get a Divorce if my Spouse Lives in Another State?

In order to obtain a divorce in the state of Florida one party must be a resident of the state for at least six months proceeding the date the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed.  Once one spouse has met the six month threshold, he or she has the right to move forward and file for divorce regardless if their spouse is a resident of Florida or not.  Often times when a couple is moving forward with a Florida divorce they have been separated and sometimes no longer reside in the same state as their spouse.  If faced with this situation it is important that a party speak with a Florida family law attorney so that they can address the impact this situation may create in the divorce proceeding.

One issue a party may face is whether Florida divorce courts will have jurisdiction over their spouse.  Florida's jurisdiction is very important as it provides the court the power to award a spouse specific relief, including but not limited to; the distribution of the assets and debts of the marriage, temporary and permanent alimony, partition of the marital home, and an ability to recover attorney fees and costs.  In most cases if a spouse has never resided in Florida, a Florida court would not have personal jurisdiction over that party and therefore may be powerless to provide any substantive relief.

Alternatively, if a party is only seeking a divorce and does not have the intent to seek other relief Florida would have jurisdiction and a party could move forward regardless if their spouse was a resident of Florida.  Thus, the answer is that a party can get a divorce even if their spouse lives in another state.  It is important to note, that the answer may not be that straight forward and that there are several issues that should be addressed.  Each divorce is unique based on it's own case facts.  We always recommend that parties thinking about divorce speak with an attorney who specializes in Florida family law.