Options for an Out of State Divorce


Options for when you get married in one state and divorced while living in another.

Married couples relocate all the time. Especially in such a tough economy, it’s often required for one or both spouses to move to another state for a job. But what happens if the couple decides to divorce? In the eyes of the law, the couple is married in Vermont but is now seeking a divorce in Georgia. What are the options for an out-of-state divorce?

Let’s look at the state of Georgia specifically. Georgia law stipulates that in order for a couple to be legally divorced they must be residents of the state. Residency is granted after six months. So, if the couple moved to Georgia together and have decided to get divorced after one year of Georgia residency then they will be granted a legal divorce. On the other hand, if they have only resided in Georgia for four months then they must apply for a legal separation first, followed by divorce proceedings after residency is established. Six months is the cut-off time to be granted an out-of-state divorce in Georgia.

The residency statute is also known as a “cooling off” period in which the couple is forced to wait before divorcing. In fact, divorce proceedings may drag on and on depending on things like alimony, custody, and the separation of assets. However, there are other states that cut those cooling off periods significantly. Nevada is home to the “quickie” divorce in which you only have to be a resident for six weeks before filing for divorce, which can be granted in as little as a week. Theoretically the out-of-state couple could be divorced in as little as two months.

The quickest out-of-state option for divorce, though, is in Guam. The only requirement is that the couple signs a “consent to jurisdiction” document. The loopholes present in the Guam legal system allows the couple to skip the 90-day residency requirement, stay where they are, and obtain a divorce in as little as a few days.

Most people are unaware of the Guam statutes and the Nevada “quickie” divorce. Georgia is much more typical in that certain states require a certain period of residency prior to filing legal action. The best way to proceed with these options is to discuss them with an attorney from the state you’re currently residing in. Divorce is hard both emotionally and legally and sometimes the best thing to do is to get it over with quickly. A qualified divorce attorney will be able to answer all of your questions and provide the legal counseling you need to move on with your life.

This article was written by Roger Brent Hatcher, an attorney at Smith, Gilliam, Williams & Miles, a leading Atlanta Law Firm since 1928. Smith, Gilliam, William & Miles specialize in everything from family law to taxation law.