Jurisdiction in Dissolution (Divorce) Cases

Jurisdiction in Dissolution (Divorce) Cases

A key thing to determine before filing for divorce is which state you can and/or should file the divorce in. Many mistakenly assume that a divorce must always be filed in the state where the marriage occurred. If you and your spouse both currently live in Washington State, state jurisdiction as to the divorce may be a simple determination. However, if that’s not the case, things can get complicated. Even if jurisdiction as to the divorce itself is straightforward, jurisdiction over other family law aspects, such as child custody, may be quite complex.

If you share children with your spouse, that can further complicate these determinations. In Washington State, the factors to establish jurisdiction over a married couple for divorce are not the same factors used in figuring out jurisdiction over the children for custody issues. This is a vitally important issue, because not only will jurisdiction determine whether and where you can file, but it will determine what kind of case you can file. The state you file in will also have wide-ranging implications. Applicable laws vary widely by state as to division of property and debts, spousal maintenance (alimony), custody and visitation, and child support. Most attorneys also can only ethically advise as to the legal implications of filing in their state, unless they are licensed and competent to practice in the other state as well. A court may have jurisdiction over one issue, such as the divorce itself (its ability to end the marriage legally), but may not have jurisdiction over other issues, such as maintenance or child custody and support. Because of both the complexity and importance of these issues, it is especially wise to consult with an attorney before filing if your marital and/or parenting histories involve multiple states.

If you have questions as to whether Washington State will have jurisdiction over your divorce or other aspects of your family law case, email us at eliseb@elisebuiefamilylaw.com or call at 206-926-9848 to schedule a consultation.


Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.
ebl home subscribe image


Latest Blog Posts

If you and your partner reside in Washington state and are unmarried, you each might qualify for the legal protections availed to you by law by classifying your relationship as a committed intimate relationship.

One of the greatest gifts you can give your family is to build an estate plan while you are alive and well. Estate planning allows you to formally communicate your wishes so they will not be up for interpretation by…

A co-executor can help facilitate the distribution of assets, minimize conflicts, and provide much-needed support to grieving families.

The law makes it easy for people to get out of bad marriages. Washington, like most states, acknowledges no-fault divorce. This means that if you want a court to dissolve your marriage, all you have to do is file for…

Washington state’s laws on non-marital relationships, including committed intimate relationships (CIRs), can be convoluted, especially in the absence of a cohabitation agreement. Given the ambiguity that exists for unmarried partners in Washington state, thinking about the future and what it could look like is more important than ever. This is especially true in terms of aging, incapacity, and death. Fortunately, you can address each of these issues in a comprehensive estate plan.

Prenups and postnups can strengthen a marriage, given how they require relationship partners to put their cards on the table for each other to see, offering transparency and peace of mind. Despite their similarities, there are a few significant differences between the two.

Child support is one of the most contentious issues in divorce cases where parties have minor children. Even though Washington state law uses the same complex mathematical formula to determine the amount of child support for each child, there is…

Family law and estate planning often intersect. This is particularly true when contemplating divorce, remarriage, or blending families.

At some point during your divorce case, friends and family members whose own marriages ended in divorce probably told you that it gets better, and it does. Of course, from your perspective, getting out of a bad marriage might be…

Co-parenting over a long distance when you are a non-residential parent does not have to equate to sacrificing involvement in your children’s lives. But it likely does mean you will have to make tweaks in your communication and parenting style to accommodate the new living arrangement.