One of the first steps in getting a divorce is to make sure you meet the statutory requirements in your jurisdiction. Although those vary, you will almost invariably find that one requirement you need to meet is for residency. A state will only consider your divorce in its courts if it has jurisdiction, meaning you have lived in the state long enough for its courts to be able to hear your case. Most states only care about whether the spouse filing for the divorce is a resident (South Carolina is an exception, in that it requires there to have been three months when both spouses were residents). Only two states (Massachusetts and South Dakota) do not have statutory residency requirements.
If a divorce is granted and the residency requirement is later found to have not been met at the time (due to error or fraud), the defendant spouse in the divorce action may be able to have the divorce decree overturned. Therefore, making sure you meet the residency requirement from the beginning is important.
A chart of residency requirements, state by state, is available here.
If residency is challenged, the spouse filing for the divorce may have to prove residency by showing documents such as driver’s license, voter registration, real property title, or housing lease.
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